25 October 2022: The burning of straw residue is a common problem faced by many countries in the Asia-Pacific region in their efforts to promote sustainable and climate-smart agriculture and achieve the related Sustainable Development Goal targets. To address this issue, a ‘Workshop and Virtual Demonstration on Good Practices in Integrated and Sustainable Straw Management’ was held in Laixi, Qingdao, China, and broadcast live via Zoom to an international audience. The event was co-organized by the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (CSAM) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), China Institute for Conservation Tillage of China Agricultural University, Qingdao Administration of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Laixi Administration of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and Qingdao Zhitao Agricultural Machinery Specialized Cooperative.
With over 200 registered online participants and on-site attendees comprising of experts, researchers and practitioners from more than 30 countries as well as 50+ agricultural machinery cooperative leaders, agricultural machinery operators and farmer representatives, the Workshop and Virtual Demonstration aimed to share good practices on integrated management of straw residue in selected countries. In the backdrop of the difficulties in travel owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, it also practically demonstrated, via virtual modality, relevant machinery and straw utilization approaches from a joint pilot project in Laixi.
Dr. Li Yutong, the Head of ESCAP-CSAM; Mr. Lin Li, Deputy Division Chief of the Department of Agricultural Mechanization of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China; Prof. Li Hongwen, Director of the Conservation Tillage Research Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China and Professor of China Agricultural University; Mr. Cheng Xingmo, Director of the Agricultural Technology Extension Center and Member of the Party Leadership Group of Qingdao Administration of Agriculture and Rural Affairs; Ms. Wu Haibo, Third-level Researcher of Laixi Municipal People's Government, and Mr. Wang Zhitao of the Qingdao Zhitao Agricultural Machinery Specialized Cooperative delivered opening and welcome remarks.
In the following session, Prof. He Jin from China Agricultural University provided an overview of the implementation of and key results from the pilot project in Laixi, which was followed by sharing of good practices and experiences on integrated straw management by experts from three other countries, namely Dr Panna Lal Singh of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Mr. Soulikone Chaivanhna from the Department of Agriculture Land Management of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Dr. Aunnop Puttaso from the Land Development Department of Thailand. In the Virtual Demonstration session, a range of machinery and straw utilization approaches applied in the pilot project in Laixi were showcased including utilizing straw for biogas production, cow manure separation, production of organic fertilizer, utilization for fodder, returning maize straw to the field as fertilizer and no-till planting of winter wheat, returning cow manure to the field as fertilizer, as well as returning solid and liquid residue from the biogas digestor to the field as fertilizer.
The pilot project in Laixi is part of a Regional Initiative of Integrated Straw Management launched by ESCAP-CSAM in 2018 aiming at identifying an integrated model of straw management that could be promoted, adapted and applied in various countries of the region. Apart from China, the initiative has been implemented or is underway in Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Viet Nam, and India has also been engaged as a knowledge sharing partner to leverage the knowledge and experience gained from a comprehensive national project on straw management in India.
The pilot project in Laixi, the first of the five pilots under the Regional Initiative, has tested and improved four technical models of utilizing straw as fertilizer, fodder, base material for mushroom growing and biogas production. It has laid a strong foundation for scale-up and provided valuable reference for the other four pilot projects.
Speaking during the event, Dr. Li Yutong, Head of ESCAP-CSAM, highlighted “The Regional Initiative serves to demonstrate that innovative technologies and their adaptation to suit local needs and contexts is the key to success. It has also demonstrated that regional and international cooperation engaging all stakeholders is vital for efforts to address our shared issues and concerns in the Asia-Pacific region.”
CSAM’s Regional Initiative on Integrated Straw Management was earlier selected as one among 80 good practices in South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and other partners in February/March 2022.