ISSAAS INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS 2007 IN MELAKA, MALAYSIA
Melaka, Malaysia was just recently the venue for ISSAAS Congress 2007. The theme for the congress was “Agriculture is a Business”. This was held last Dec. 12-14 in the Century Mahkota Hotel. Prof. Dr. Ghizan Saleh mentioned that the objective of the congress was “to increase synergy, foster partnership and exchange information on the current advancement in agriculture technology”. He mentioned too that the congress was “planned in such a way that it addresses critical issues on commodity, successful ventures, international integration and agribusiness potential in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and other countries. On the other hand, Prof. Dr. Nik Mustapha B. Raja Abdullah, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in a message, mentioned that he was hopeful that the “meeting will provide opportunities for the participants to deliberate on this important issue on new ventures and opportunities in agriculture in the global market”.
The congress was organized by the President of ISSAAS, Prof. Dr. Mohd. Khanif Yusop and hosted by the Malaysian ISSAAS Chapter headed by its President, President, Prof. Dr. Ghizan Saleh, who is also currently the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture of UPM. In attendance were the Vice-Presidents or their representatives of the different ISSAAS Chapters of Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
If the success of a congress were gauged based on the number of papers presented and foreign delegates, then this past congress can be considered the most successful of all the congresses organized by ISSAAS. There were about 55 oral and 40 poster presentations and around 133 delegates from the 6 ISSAAS member countries. The biggest delegation was from Malaysia with 52 delegates followed by Japan and Philippines with 22 delegates each and Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam with 18, 13 and 6 delegates, respectively.
The morning of the first day was devoted to the opening ceremonies with a welcome address by the President of ISSAAS, Prof Yusop who gave a very warm welcome to all the delegates. This was followed by an address by Prof. Dr. Shun Suzuki, Director of Society for Agricultural Education-Research Abroad (SAEDA) as well as the address by Prof. Dr. Kanju Ohsawa, the President of Tokyo University of Agriculture (TUA). The officiating and Opening Address was delivered by Dr. Ghizan Saleh in behalf of the Vice Chancellor of Universiti Putra Malaysia.
The opening ceremonies were followed by a general meeting presided by the ISSAAS President during which the time the respective chapter presidents gave their respective activities reports for year 2007. Common among the reports of the different chapters was the difficulty of recruiting new members and maintaining the membership except for Malaysia which despite being new has been able to increase its membership and the Philippines whose membership has increased three-fold this year. The country activity reports were followed by the report of the General Secretary, Dr. Akimi Fujimoto, who reported on the current finances of the Association as well as the budget for the following year. Letters of appreciation were also presented to outgoing Vice Presidents of ISSAAS for their service to the association. The President in behalf of ISSAAS also received and thanked TUA and SAEDA for their financial donations to the Society.
During the meeting, it was announced that the term of the current President would end and that the new President would be from Thailand that would be hosting the congresses in years 2008 and 2009. The congress is planned to be held in Bangkok in 2008 and Chiangmai in 2009. The theme for next year’s congress is not yet final although there are strong suggestions for “Issues on Biofuel” to be the theme next year. The organizers are soliciting suggestions from the membership.
There were four plenary papers presented during the first day. The first paper by Dr. Tran Huu Cuong dealt with the potentials and challenges of safe vegetables in Vietnam while Dr. Rogelio Colting, President of the Benguet State University in the Philippines talked about the market potentials of organic crops. A Medical doctor and agri-businessman, Dato’ Dr. Zainuddin Wazir from Malaysia gave a very interesting talk about his venture into banana production not only in Malaysia but also Asia; while Dr. Lop Phaphutanon talked about the successful tropical fruit cultivation in Thailand.
The second day was devoted to oral presentations by local and foreign delegates. There were 3 concurrent technical sessions dealing with 6 themes as follows: Biological Control, Agricultural Production System, Farming Systems, Pest and Diseases, Technology in Crop Production and Agri-business.
The congress was capped during the third day when delegates were treated to a farm visit and cultural shoe. The delegates visited “D-Paradise Tropical Fruit World and Aboriginal Native Village” in Melaka showing different tropical fruit-bearing species, cactus species, medicinal herbal species, some animals, and dances of Sarawak natives. D-Paradise Village is a privately-managed ecotourism area.
Contributed by Roberto F. Rañola, Jr. and Tonie Balangue