Writer: Wannipa Soda, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems
The ASEAN Guidelines on Soil and Nutrient Management (SNM) will not be developed as a text book but recommendations based on best practices and knowledge particularly specific to ASEAN, agreed by senior specialists from eight ASEAN Member States attending the 2nd Meeting of the ASEAN Expert Group on Soil and Nutrient Management recently held in Singapore on 28-29 April 2015.
The primary objective of this two-day consultation meeting was to share knowledge and discuss the draft ASEAN Guidelines on Soil and Nutrient Management.
Dr. Thomas Jaekel, a Chief Technical Advisor of ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (SAS) project highlighted the need to harmonise thinking on SNM in ASEAN and emphasised the importance of this meeting in refining the scope and contents.
He said the Guidelines should include practical advice and actions and in particular to ensure the recommendations were tangible and applicable not just for policy makers but also for farmers.
The eight senior specialists as members of the Regional Technical Expert Group on Soil and Nutrient Management were from eight ASEAN Member States: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Soil and nutrient management is an integrated system to manage soils, nutrients, water and crops in a sustainable manner to optimize crop production and improve soil health.” The definition for SNM was finalised at the meeting.
The meeting also refined the objectives of the ASEAN Guidelines. They are to emphasise the importance of soil and nutrient management in attaining sustainable agriculture; to provide guidance that helps decision makers to formulate policies that encourage sustainable agriculture, crop production and soil health; and to harmonise recommendations in order to improve soil and nutrient management.
The 1st draft of ASEAN Guidelines on SNM was presented at the meeting. Discussion was conducted based on contents of the 1st draft.
The ASEAN Guidelines on SNM will cover issues of soil in ASEAN; good soil management practices; good nutrient management practices; standards, regulations and market information of fertiliser and supplements and recommendations for soil and nutrient management.
The meeting agreed that the members of Regional Technical Expert Group on SNM are responsible for writing up the detailed contents of the five working topics based on their experience and expertise in relation to local condition.
Submission of completed set of the contents for drafting the 2nd draft of ASEAN Guidelines on SNM is expected by the end of September 2015.
The ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (SAS) project aimed at developing policies and strategies for soil and nutrient management in a form of a guidance document. A Regional Technical Expert Group on Soil and Nutrient Management has been established and meets regularly to develop the guidelines.