Swiss method to assess sustainability of Thai farms

A specialist from Bern University of Applied Sciences (HAFL), Switzerland proposed a method to assess sustainability of Thai farms at a recent meeting with Department of Agricultural Extension (DoAE) in Thailand.

Dr Jan Grenz, lecturer in agro-ecology, recently introduced a sustainability assessment method called ‘Response-Inducing Sustainability Evaluation’ (RISE) and stated how worldwide used methods such as RISE can “serve to bridge the gap between universal or national sustainability principles” and “individual farm situation and potential”.

Sustainability assessment methods use different indicators such as if measures to reduce water use are taken, if protection equipment is used or if the rice straw is burned on the field. By the combination of these different indicators, the sustainability of agricultural and non-agricultural practices of the farmer are assessed.

RISE is a method that facilitates a rapid assessment of all the crops, eventual livestock farming or off-farm activities of the farm rather than only focusing on one crop. Rapid assessment means that the assessment is based on the farmers knowledge and existing data and is conducted with the farmers. This in contrast with full assessment that uses detailed farm data and is conducted by experts. This method also attempts to “make sustainability better comprehensible, tangible and measurable”, according to Dr Grenz, who is also the coordinator of the RISE project, developed by HAFL.

RISE can be used in the context of agricultural extension, education, research, and supply chain management. It has already been used on more than 3,500 farms in 57 countries including ASEAN country the Philippines. Farms assessed range from dairy, arable, vegetable farms to coffee, cocoa or tea plantations through nomadic herders.

Dr Grenz also invited the meeting participants from the DoAE to have a free trial at www.farmrise.ch (only works with Internet Explorer).

Ms Usa Thongjang, Chief of Foreign Relations Group of DoAE, who attended the meeting said that the Department looked forward to trying it and learning more about this sustainability assessment method.

“It is very interesting to see a method that can identify gaps in the national sustainability practices and integrated agriculture,” said she.

The meeting occurred on May 18, 2018 in cooperation and support by the Agriculture and Food Cluster under German International Cooperation or Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Bangkok.

The first field pilot of RISE on Thai farms will be conducted by Ludovic Schorno, a senior student at HAFL. Mr. Schorno is also a junior consultant for the Agriculture and Food Cluster under GIZ in Bangkok.

For more information on RISE, feel free to visit: http://rise.hafl.bfh.ch.