Friday, 17 July 2015

The rewards and challenges of collaboration in research and development projects

By Jim Young, Project Officer - Mekong Livestock Research (University of Sydney)

‘Collaboration’ is a word that rolls off the tongue and I think is generally perceived in a positive light. So I was somewhat surprised to find two definitions on a 'Google search'. The first, was expected; ‘the action of working with someone to produce or create something’. The second, was a little more surprising; ‘traitorous cooperation with an enemy’. Hmmm, interesting and I thought it might be useful to explore collaboration in further detail in the hope of stimulating some discussion and learn the experiences of others.

My view, and I am confident I can speak on behalf of our University of Sydney Mekong Livestock Research team, is that collaboration refers to the first definition: Joining forces to reach a common goal. Sounds simple, right?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Safe vegetables for the benefit of all stakeholders along the supply chain

By Nguyen Thi Sau, Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute, Vietnam

During a recent visit to Vietnam, Dr Nick Austin, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), spent some time on project-related activities in the country.

On 8 July, he visited a Fivimart supermarket on Chuong Duong Do Street with ACIAR country staff to see the sales point of certified safe vegetables from Moc Chau District, Son La Province. These vegetables have been produced under the ACIAR project ‘Improved market engagement for counter-seasonal vegetable producers in north-western Vietnam’ (AGB/2009/053). While there, ACIAR met with the distributors, collectors, farmers and market researchers who are directly involved in the Moc Chau safe vegetable supply chain.

Successful connection between safe vegetable producers in Moc Chau and Fivimart in Hanoi through the ACIAR project has led to the consumption of about 737 tons of vegetables since 2012 with an increase in volume and vegetable types from year to year.

Dr Nick Austin, ACIAR’s Chief Executive Officer (fourth from left) join farmers from Moc Chau and ACIAR Vietnam staff in the visit to a Fivimart outlet in Hanoi on 8 July 2015. Photo by Nguyen Phuc Dinh

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Combine harvesters used for rice production in Central Laos

Combine harvester is commonly used to harvest rice crops in neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, but it is of limited use in Central Laos where rice is mostly harvested by hand. However, the shortage and high cost of labour at the time of harvesting in recent years make it difficult to sustain manual harvesting methods. Combine can harvest rice crops quickly in the field–often 2-4 hectares a day. This makes it suitable in areas where there is not enough labour to harvest rice crops in a timely manner. Farmers in Central Laos often mention difficulty in introducing combine to the area due to: small and irregular rice fields, lack of resources to dry harvested paddy rice, and high fees charged by the combine contractor (commonly 20% or more of harvested rice).

Combine harvester performance is compared in small fields is typical in Tung village, Khammouan and larger field in Pakpung village, Bolikhamxay. Source: Professor Shu Fukai

Friday, 3 July 2015

PARDI market day proves huge success

Over 150 researchers, farmers, agribusiness and government representatives from Australia and across the Pacific came together in Fiji this week. The occasion was the PARDI Impact Workshop and Market Day. An event marking the completion of the first phase of the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) and a chance to network, share experiences and see firsthand the impact of agribusiness research on economic and social development in the region.

ACIAR's Tara McKenzie learning about breadfruit from stallholder Livai Tora. Source: ACIAR