“Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems”
Bangkok, 30 August 2017 – The National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC) with the support of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) and Agricultural Land Reform Office under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (IPRP), hosted a one-day seminar in Century Park Hotel, Bangkok, entitled “Application of Sustainability Indicators in Line with International Principles of Maize Production and Animal Feed Industry” for a joint assessment research presentation of prevalent key issues across Thailand’s maize production chain. Studies were conducted in three study areas across four dimensions of sustainability: environmental integrity, social well-being, economic resilience and good governance.
Organized in partnership with research agencies National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) and the Central Office of National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the seminar provided an opportunity for researchers to present their sustainability assessment results based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) guideline.
Agricultural production is prone to several risks which can affect an entire food value chain. Whilst there are indicators used to measure agricultural sustainability, such as changing climate, competition for land, water and energy, the lack of clear guidelines and goals towards a biodiversity’s vulnerability to climate change (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions) need also be addressed. Through an evaluation of the impact of sustainability standards in Thailand, the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) by farmers fares no better in sustainability score compared to Non-GAP farmers.
In a strong demonstration of commitment to promote regional cooperation, the high-level seminar, which was opened by Associate Professor Dr. Thumrongrat Mengcharoen, President of NSTDA, brought together a unique combination of more than 50 participants: governmental representatives, along with international organizations representatives, environmental experts, media professionals and civil society representatives.
During the seminar, Dr. Thumrongrat Mengcharoen, President of NSTDA, highlighted on the key issues at hand, as well as expressing support towards the development of national policy recommendations. Director of IPRPR, Ms. Panyanan Kongmak confirmed for further joint and cooperative action to be taken towards the development of sustainability initiatives in the region, identifying SAFA as a platform for the enhancement of cross-cultural understanding across different sectoral levels.
Mr. Pornsil Patchrin Tanakul, President of Thai Feed Mill Association, expressed his determination to promote sustainable animal feed production systems, as well as develop sustainability schemes for responsible consumption.
Further to an overall presentation of the research, the seminar further promoted an intercultural dialogue exchange between key research contributors and participants on animal feed industries’ way forward towards sustainability. Among the three panelists was Mr. Ply Pirom, Project Manager of the International Climate Initiative project on Sustainable Consumption and Production (IKI-SCP) from WWF-Thailand, who pointed towards maize production as one of the main causes of forest encroachment:
“Today, more than 40 percent of land use for maize production is located in upstream forests. With increasing demands for agricultural goods, excessive applications of agricultural chemicals are utilized to accelerate corn productivity. This ultimately results in water and air pollution, loss of biodiversity and GHG emissions. Given the significance and complexity of maize production, these monocrops involves a broad range of food supply chain stakeholders. As maize is largely associated with a variety of Thai dishes (consumed indirectly in the form of dairy products, chicken meat, etc.), choice of food consumption can position consumers as indirect contributors towards the degradation of an environment.”
In this era of unprecedented damage to forests across the world and threat to the nation’s agricultural system, it is crucial for all members of different sectoral levels to work together towards taking deforestation out of commodity supply chains for a sustainable and balanced society.
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