Chiang Mai University and World Agroforestry Centre increase joint activities
One of Thailand’s leading research institutions and the World Agroforestry Centre in Southeast Asia have deepened their research-for-development program with a personal visit by the vice-president of Chiang Mai University
By Robert Finlayson
The vice-president for research and academic services of Chiang Mai University, Thailand, Associate Professor Doctor Sermkiat Jomjunyong, visited the offices of the World Agroforestry Centre Southeast Asia in Bogor, Indonesia, on 27 June 2014 in order to cement the agreement recently renewed in Chiang Mai between the two organizations.
The regional coordinator of the Centre in Southeast Asia, Dr Ujjwal Pradhan, welcomed Dr Jomjunyong to the newly refurbished Bogor offices, reminding staff present at the meeting that from its beginning in 1996 under the leadership of Dr David E. Thomas the Centre had been collaborating closely with the University. Since 2009, the two organizations have been focusing their collaboration on development of the Knowledge Support Center for the Greater Mekong Sub-region, a unique research program encompassing six countries and 2.6 million km2. That relationship has been developed further since 2011 under the able guidance of the Centre’s new Thailand program coordinator, Dr Prasit Wangpakapattanawong, based at the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The Centre and the University have been working together consistently, most recently on the Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture Solutions amongst Ethnic Minorities Living in Remote Upland Areas of Thailand project funded by the International Development Research Centre, the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change Phase 2 funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, a forest restoration nursery, mapping of biomass-burning hotspots in northern Thailand, the dynamics of land tenure and property rights under state forest conservation and agricultural commercialization, mapping rubber plantation growth in conjunction with the Centre’s programs in China, Indonesia and Viet Nam and on local adaptation to climate change in partnership with RECOFTC: the Center for People and Forests.
The two organizations have agreed to expand their joint activities even further, with the establishment of agroforestry demonstration plots for the Community Livelihoods Learning Center at the University’s Hariphunchai campus south of Chiang Mai city, curriculum development for masters’ programs at the University’s Center of Excellence in Biological Resources Management and Climate Change, and a greater focus on the CGIAR Research Program on the Humid Tropics’ site in Nan province. These various activities will see cross-disciplinary involvement with the faculties of agriculture, science, social sciences, economics and engineering. The extent and depth of the collaboration will be presented to the Government of Thailand, foreign delegates and development agencies at a special joint event to be held on 5 December 2014.
The Centre’s program in Thailand focuses primarily on agroforestry solutions for increased food and nutrition security, development of model schemes involving rewards for environmental services, developing a better understanding of shifting cultivation systems in the uplands and exploring the role of traditional knowledge in maintaining forests and in agricultural production. Given the office’s strategic location and excellent regional relationships, the Centre and the University plan to use it as a hub for building programs in neighbouring Cambodia, Laos PDR and Myanmar.
This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry