Article by Duncan Vaughan, NIAS, Japan
From 23rd to 25th October 2013, Bioversity International, NIAS (National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Japan) and JATAFF (Japan Association for Techno-innovation in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) jointly sponsored a training course on the ITPGRFA in Tsukuba, Japan. The training course was requested by Asian National ITPGRFA Focal Points at a Regional Meeting of a Japanese Trust Fund Project implemented by FAO-RAP, Bangkok in May 2013. The training course was attended by 28 participants from 16 countries (Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam). Three facilitators, Michael Halewood and Ronnie Vernooy of Bioversity International and Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton of IRRI covered the main points of the Treaty in simple language. The course was balanced between seminars, exercises and participatory activities. The different teaching approaches were effective to reinforce the comprehension of the topics covered.
Asia has many languages that are not UN languages so explaining the Treaty in simple non-legal terms is needed. Participants of the training included both National Focal Points and younger staff of most of the countries attending. The younger staff participants were participating in a month long training course in Tsukuba and the Treaty Training helped to put what they had been learning into a global context. Among the activities they participated in were gene bank management and viability testing, evaluation of legumes for salt tolerance, making crop list for a traditional Japanese village and population analysis of wild crop relative, wild azuki bean. In addition, participants learned the joy of a Japanese onsen (hot spring). Their training was sponsored by NIAS (National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Japan) and JATAFF (Japan Association for Techno-innovation in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) based in Tsukuba, Japan.
The Treaty training was notable for the good atmosphere – because of the eagerness to learn, as it was a requested training, and also more lightheartedly the country singing that started during the welcome party and continued into the final day. There were some notable performances from the coordinated Philippine trio and an expansive Mongolian song. The participants evaluated the training highly and future workshops around particular issues related to PGRFA would be welcomed. Participants experienced a little of Japanese culture and countryside on a short trip and also typical life in Japan with a final night earthquake that woke all participants at 2 a.m.!