Bio-Innovation and Poverty Alleviation: Case Studies from Asia


Edited by: Edsel E. Sajor, Bernadette P. Resurrección & Sudip K. Rakshit

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    List of Tables

    • 1.1 Influent water for the biosand water filter coming from various sources 8
    • 1.2 Effluent water from the biosand water filter coming from various households 9
    • 1.3 Economic contribution of BSF to poor households 12
    • 1.4 Health contribution of BSF to poor households 13
    • 1.5 Regression analysis on the social acceptability of BSF 17
    • 1.6 Regression analysis on the cultural adaptation of BSF 19
    • 1.7 NPV of household's cost of purchasing BSF 20
    • 2.1 Mushroom output values (million yuan) 35
    • 2.2 Average income of sampled households in Qingyuan County 38
    • 2.3 Mushroom income as part of the total household income in Qingyuan County 38
    • 2.4 Distribution of cost per plastic bag in Qingyuan County 38
    • 2.5 Average income of sampled households in Gutian County 40
    • 2.6 Mushroom income as part of the total household income in Gutian County 40
    • 2.7 Distribution of costs per plastic bag in Gutian County 41
    • 2.8 Technological information access channels 45
    • 2.9 Demands for technical information access 46
    • 2.10 Evolving mushroom markets 46
    • 2.11 Sales channels of mushroom products 48
    • 3.1 Types of respondents and sample size in two study districts 63
    • 3.2 Gender of the respondents included in the study (in numbers) 69
    • 3.3 Average monthly incomes of sampled households in two study areas 70
    • 3.4 Average monthly incomes of sampled households by categories of farmers 70
    • 3.5 Average income from aquaculture of sampled households in two study areas 72
    • 3.6 Average income from aquaculture of sampled households by categories of farmers 72
    • 3.7 Frequency of fish consumption of sampled households by categories of farmers 73
    • 3.8 Perception of sampled households regarding contribution to nutritional status 74
    • 3.9 Role of women and men in various activities related to aquaculture 75
    • 3.10 Perceptions of sampled households regarding changes in time contribution by family members in different activities after start of aquaculture 75
    • 3.11 Attending the training/workshops and decision on spending of income 76
    • 5.1 Essential features of a lazy garden according to farmers with such gardens 103
    • 5.2 Characteristics of interviewed representatives of households 104
    • 5.3 Statistical associations between having lazy gardens on a farm and selected socioeconomic predictors 105
    • 5.4 Reasons for adopting lazy gardens; percentage of farms with lazy gardens (n = 143) 108
    • 5.5 Household farming-gathering activities and cash income sources 110
    • 5.6 Income from different types of products harvested from lazy gardens 111
    • 5.7 Lazy gardens contribute to building resilience 114
    • 6.1 Basic demographic characteristics of Tra Nien village in Khanh Hoa commune 129
    • 6.2 Net cash income (VND) sources of different household groups/year/capita in 2009 131
    • 6.3 Wealth ranking and animal ownership 133
    • 6.4 Wealth ranking and land ownership per capita 134
    • 6.5 Views of respondents on the direction of household income change 134
    • 6.6 Biotechnology innovation products used in shrimp farming 136
    • 6.7 Proportion of household income from application of biotechnology innovation and the wealth ranking of households 138
    • 6.8 Gender and use of biotechnology innovation 138
    • 6.9 Income earned by different groups of women vs. men 139
    • 6.10 Service from aquaculture centers in the last two years 142
    • 7.1 Feedback from the stove testers on their desire to use and buy the test stove 163
    • 9.1 Physical assets of the surveyed households 207
    • 9.2 Land holding of the surveyed households 208
    • 9.3 Reasons for households being in debt 210
    • 9.4 Average cost of biogas-related infrastructure per household 2010 211
    • 9.5 Education level of the surveyed households 212
    • 9.6 Labor capacity of the surveyed households 212
    • 9.7 The main income sources of the surveyed households over the past 12 months 214
    • 9.8 Income savings from buying fuel for cooking by biogas adaptors 216
    • 9.9 Animal dung used in households’ biogas adaptors 217
    • 9.10 Environmental perception related to biogas plant by villagers 219
    • 9.11 Environmental issues experienced by villagers 220
    • 10.1 Innovation system domain actors 232
    • 10.2 Domain actors and linkage matrix 239
    • 13.1 The sown area and percentages of Bt cotton in Henan province and China, 1997–2008 295
    • 13.2 Roles of key stakeholders and potential impacts 297

    List of Figures

    • 2.1 Shiitake production and its share in all mushroom production 29
    • 2.2 White jelly fungus production in Gutian, 1978–2006 30
    • 2.3 Farmer income and the share from mushroom cultivation 37
    • 2.4 The hierarchical nature of the bio-innovation dissemination 42
    • 2.5 Public technological extension system 45
    • 2.6 The marketing of mushroom products 47
    • 2.7 Government support to farmers 50
    • 3.1 The study districts in Nepal 62
    • 3.2 Trend of aquaculture production in Nepal since the 1950s 67
    • 5.1 Study area in Mae Wang district, Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand 98
    • 5.2 Field study tour was organized 100
    • 5.3 Vegetation profiles of typical lazy gardens 102
    • 5.4 Gender roles in lazy gardens 107
    • 5.5 Non-cash income related uses of products from lazy gardens 111
    • 7.1 Comparison of the health and climate mitigation cost-effectiveness of household, transport, and power sector interventions 150
    • 7.2 Grams of CO2 equivalent per liter of water boiled and simmered for 30 minutes for five different stoves 151
    • 7.3 Comparison of the performance of a variety of stoves with respect to: carbon monoxide emissions and PM 152
    • 7.4 Results from the water boiling test on the Anila, EN, Sampada, and Anderson's Champion TLUD for (a) burning rate, (b) temperature corrected specific fuel consumption, (c) fire power, and (d) thermal efficiency 155
    • 7.5 The gasification stove testers perception (negative and positive attributes) of their baseline stove 158
    • 7.6 The perception of stove attributes (positive and negative) for the users in Cambodia and India testing the following stoves: (a) Anila, (b) EN, (c) Sampada, and (d) Champion TLUD 159
    • 7.7 Use of the biochar as a percentage of the stove testers who produced biochar in the test stove 164
    • 13.1 Case study sites in China 294
    • 13.2 Contribution of GMC to food security and poverty reduction 302
    • 14.1Rhizobium inoculants bio-innovation domain map 323
    • 14.2Azospirillum bio-innovation domain map 324

    List of Boxes

    • 6.1 Commercial shrimp farming in Vietnam 124
    • 9.1 Biogas in Vietnam 205
    • 12.1 Novartis and corporate citizenship 282
    • 14.1 Enabling poverty relevant biofertilizers innovation systems in India 320

    List of Appendices

    • 2.1 Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) production (1,000 tons) 52
    • 2.2 Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) output value (1,000 tons) 54
    • 2.3 Productions of Agaricus bisporus (in 1,000 tons) 56

    List of Abbreviations

    AARMAquaculture and Aquatic Resource Management
    ADBAsian Development Bank
    AISAgriculture Innovation System
    AITAsian Institute of Technology
    APHAssociation of Physicians for Humanism
    ARVAnti Retroviral
    AT&TAmerican Telephone and Telegraph
    BfISBiofertilizers Innovation System
    Bio-NBiological Nitrogen
    BIOTECNational Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
    BIOTECHNational Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
    BMPBio-N Mixing Plant
    BNPBeliefs, Norms, and Practices
    BSFBioSand Filter
    BSWMBureau of Soils and Water Management
    BtBacillus thuringiensis
    CAASChinese Academy for Agricultural Sciences
    CAFNRCollege of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
    CCAPCentre for Chinese Agricultural Policies
    CCAPCentre for Chinese Agricultural Policy
    CMISChiang Mai International School
    CMLChronic Myelogenous Leukemia
    COCarbon monoxide
    CSACommunity-supported Agriculture
    CSOCivil Society Organization
    CVContingent Valuation
    DADepartment of Agriculture
    DALYDisability-Adjusted Life Year
    DBTDevelopment Programme on Biofertilizers
    DCVMDeveloping Country Vaccine Manufacturer
    DFIDDepartment for International Development
    DNADeoxyribonucleic Acid
    DOSTDepartment of Science and Technology
    EAPExpanded Access Program
    ENEverything Nice
    EPIExpanded Programme of Immunization
    EUEuropean Union
    FAOFood and Agriculture Organization
    FDFisheries Directorate
    FDCFixed-Dose Combination
    FGDFocus Group Discussion
    FNCAForum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia
    FPAFertilizer and Pesticide Authority
    GAPGlobal Pandemic Influenza Action Plan to Increase Vaccine Supply
    GAVIGlobal Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization
    GDPGross Domestic Product
    GHGGreenhouse Gases
    GIPAPGlivec International Patient Assistance Program
    GISTGastrointestinal Stromal Tumor
    GMGenetically Modified
    GMOGenetically Modified Organism
    GPOGovernment Pharmaceutical Organization
    GSPA-PHIGlobal Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property
    HIRAHealth Insurance Review Agency
    HPVHuman Papillomavirus
    HRSHousehold Responsibility System
    HSRIHealth System Research Institute
    IAAIndole-3-Acetic Acid
    IAASInstitute of Agriculture and Animal Sciences
    IAPIndoor Air Pollution
    ICARIndian Council of Agriculture Research
    ICSImproved Cook Stove
    IDRCInternational Development Research Centre
    IFADInternational Fund for Agricultural Development
    IFPRIInternational Food Policy Research Institute
    INMIntegrated Nutrient Management
    IP letIntellectual Property Left
    IPMIntegrated Pest Management
    IPNSIntegrated Plant Nutrient Systems
    IPRIntellectual Property Rights
    ISAAAInternational Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications
    ISOPOMIntegrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize
    ITInformation Technology
    JEJapanese Encephalitis
    KFDAKorea Food and Drug Administration
    KIIKey Informants Interview
    KMUTTKing Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi
    KPDSKorean Pharmacists for Democratic Society
    KRPIAKorea Research-based Pharmaceutical Industry Association
    KRWKorean Won
    LAIVLive Attenuated Influenza Vaccine
    LDCLeast Developed Country
    LGULocal Government Unit
    LWMEALivestock Waste Management in East Asia Project
    MAAManufacturers Aircraft Association
    MAOThe Municipal Agriculture Office
    MARDMinistry of Agriculture and Rural Development
    MBVMonodon Baculovirus
    MNREMinistry of Natural Resources and Environment
    MOHWMinistry of Health and Welfare
    MPNMost Probable Number
    MPPMedicines Patent Pool
    MTFTMultiple Tube Fermentation Technique
    NADPNational Agriculture Development Programme
    NBDCNational Biofertilizers Development Centre
    NCOFNational Centre of Organic Farming
    NGONongovernmental Organization
    NIHNational Institutes of Health
    NMINational Medical Insurance
    NMINationalized Medical Insurance
    NPRNepalese Rupee
    NPVNet Present Value
    NSCBNational Statistical Coordination Board
    NTDNeglected Tropical Disease
    NVCONational Vaccines Committee Office
    NVINational Vaccine Institute
    NVPNational Vaccine Policy
    ODAOfficial Development Assistance
    OECDOrganization for Economic Cooperation and Development
    P&MProduction and Marketing
    PAOsProvincial Agriculture Offices
    PCAARRDPhilippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development
    PCTPatent Cooperation Treaty
    PDPresidential Decree
    PercOutCPerceived Outcomes
    PerVPersonal Values
    PhilRicePhilippine Rice Research Institute
    PhRMAPharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America
    PMParticulate Matter
    PolSPAPolitical Structure, Power, and Authority
    PoPPackages of Practice
    R&DResearch and Development
    RBDCRegional Centre of Organic Farming
    RBPercRisk and Benefit Perception
    RCARadio Corporation of America
    RRSReligion, Rituals, and Sacrifices
    RWBResponsible Wellbeing
    SARSSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome
    SDAState Agriculture Department
    SEDCCSustainable Energy Development Consultancy Joint Stock Company
    SHGSelf Help Group
    SNPSingle-Nucleotide Polymorphisms
    SNVNetherlands Development Organization
    SubASubjective Assessment
    SUCsState Universities and Colleges
    TAOTambon Administrative Organization
    TLUDTop-lit Updraft
    TRC/QSMIThai Red Cross/Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute
    TRIPSTrade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
    UICUniversity of Immaculate Conception
    UNCTADUnited Nations Conference on Trade and Development
    UNDPUnited Nations Development Programme
    UNEPUnited Nations Environment Programme
    UNICEFUnited Nations Children's Fund
    UPLBUniversity of the Philippines Los Banos
    USFDAUnited States Food and Drug Administration
    VDCVillage Development Committee
    VNDVietnamese Dong
    WHOWorld Health Organization
    WiAWomen in Aquaculture
    WIPOWorld Intellectual Property Organization
    WSHGWomen Self Help Group
    WTOWorld Trade Organization


    Edsel E.Sajor, Bernadette P.Resurrección, and Sudip K.Rakshit

    In the context of aggressive, biotechnology research and application supported by governments in the middle-income countries in the Asian region today, the need to examine and explore its relationship with the historical problems of poverty and inequality becomes even more important. How much promise does biotechnology and bio-innovation hold in terms of alleviating poverty that remains substantial in many middle-income and low-income countries of the region?

    There is a pervasive claim that new technologies, including those in bio-innovation, designed and intended to benefit society's welfare will ultimately, if not immediately, benefit the poor. This claim is implied in various major narratives about science, technology and development, and their implications to societal welfare. One narrative says that science and technology are the key drivers of economic progress for all societies, and as these societies advance into higher stages of modernization, the welfare benefits will eventually trickle down to poor and low-income groups. Another narrative goes that there are technical innovations, for example, vaccines, safe water technologies, which are universally replicable irrespective of socioeconomic or ecological contexts and whose characteristics are inherently beneficial especially for poor people. If these types of innovations that are universally responsive to poor people's ‘basic’ needs are focused on technical research and design, then poverty alleviation anywhere is just a matter of biding time. Further, there is another narrative—apparently more sophisticated in the sense of its explicit focus on the poor—which says that such biotechnology development that targets crops that the poor predominantly consume or that targets places with large population of poor people should lead automatically to significant progress in poverty alleviation.

    But the historical fact is that technological advances, generally speaking, have neither eliminated poverty nor universally improved human welfare. The emerging consensus among science, technology and society experts, and development scholars and practitioners is that while new technology and bio-innovations are important and necessary components in improving societal welfare, including alleviating poverty, these should not be privileged a priori as either the driver or as the most critical element in lifting people out of poverty. Pathways to poverty alleviation that may involve science and technology cannot simply be technical fixes but have to handle relevant social, cultural, and institutional dimensions for success. Technical innovation outcome is contextual and depends a lot on the socioeconomic conditions where it is embedded that are also usually locally specific (Leach and Scoones, 2006; Srinivas and Sutz, 2008; William and Edge, 1996). Further, while introduction of new biotechnology may offer significant potential for overall poverty alleviation, it may not prevail over larger forces that keep people in poverty in a given place (e.g., landlessness or skewed land distribution, government policies such as emphasis on export-oriented agriculture, market failure, or lack of access to public goods). Moreover, some technologies certainly have trade-offs, offering positive effects in welfare in one segment of the population, while decreasing welfare in another (Graff et al., 2006). Thus, effects of improved technology on income distribution and its impact on poverty have been regarded as ambiguous (Leach and Scoones, 2006).

    Bio-Innovation and Poverty Reduction: Some Key Issues

    In recent decades, several middle-income countries in Asia have prioritized biotechnology development as important components of their national growth strategy. China and Thailand are the two countries worth mentioning in this regard that have aggressively built up their capacity for, and implementation of, biotechnology. China has become one of the world's leading countries in biotechnology, dramatically increasing its laboratories at the national and local levels, and increasing its investments from 1986 to 2000 in annual research by over 800 percent—from US$4.2 million to US$38.9 million (Huang et al., 2001). Thailand, on the other hand, has dramatically increased its funding for biotechnology research in the last 22 years. By 2005, budget for research increased by 810 percent to 648.80 million baht compared to the base data of 1984–2000 (National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, 2004, 2005, 2006). In China, biotechnology development has largely been funded by the state, with the private sector contribution still minimal (Karplus and Deng, 2008). In Thailand by contrast, although the government support for biotechnology development has been significant, large private corporations have been at the forefront of research, application, and commercialization and are also the largest investors.

    However, making science and technology work for the poor is not a straightforward task. For instance, it is easy to find cases where poor farmers with small land holdings have benefited as much as the wealthy farmers with large farms, and those in which the benefits of new technology were confined to wealthy, more commercialized farms. Which of the two outcomes will predominate depends primarily on the underlying socioeconomic conditions of a particular case, and not on the characteristics of the technology applied per se (Kerr and Kolavalli, 1999).

    Underlying conditions that should favor the potential for biotechnology application to fulfill its purported mission of poverty reduction include the elimination of market failures that particularly affect the poor adopters, and filling-in of institutional gaps. These also require providing complementary public goods and putting in place policies that do not discriminate against the potential adopters who are poor, including access to credit, risk management tools, insurance and safety nets, and the lowering of transaction costs in factor and product markets (Graf et al., 2006). Much of these, of course, is principally dependent on a highly activist and committed role of the state to provide an enabling environment for the poor.

    But in common practice, the state's critical role in enabling bio-innovation to work for poverty reduction has often been unclear. In most cases, biotechnology development and bio-innovation programs of governments do not have any explicit anti-poverty focus. Often, as in the cases of China and Thailand, for instance, the fundamental goals guiding national emphasis in the program are as follows: achieving the aim of food security and self-reliance, in the case of China; and capturing a greater share in food and global agriculture exports—achieving ‘kitchen of the world’ status—in the case of Thailand. Poverty alleviation and addressing inequalities thus become subordinate to and muted in the policy framing of biotechnology development. Or it may be, as in the experience of countries in Latin America, biotechnology development and bio-innovation programs have not been related or legitimized at all as a social policy program (Sutz, 2007). Hence, the program of research and adaptation is fragmented and delinked from the overall strategy in achieving growth with equity, and instead locked in an implicit goal of achieving so-called global status in modernization and technology equal to that of the countries in the north.

    Oftentimes, the state's principal preoccupation in biotechnology development can have inadvertent effects. One such policy focus concerns top-down regulation and obsession with strict and conventional protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), without due regard to their impact on the poor and without exploring alternatives to their exclusionary dimensions. Authors have argued that exclusive rights, even if temporary, may restrict access to new technologies as prices become pushed up, as a result burdening the poor among others. Hence, expanding conventional patent regimes, it has been argued, is not always good for the poor and for public-good innovations (Leach and Scoones, 2006).

    The foregoing discussions inevitably lead to a germane issue in biotechnology development and innovation initiatives: How far should a state be an interventionist vis-à-vis the role of the private sector?

    There is no wishing away the fact that the private business sector does play an indispensable and crucial role in the development of biotechnology and in promoting and spreading bio-innovation. For instance, agriculture and health sectors in all countries have become increasingly commercialized, expanding the private sector's role in production and marketing of inputs and outputs. Commercialization and market forces should, in theory at least, contribute to more efficient, effective, and wide use of new technologies, with its huge potential for helping the poor, provided of course that distribution of assets, policies, and institutions and infrastructure are in place and favorable. But private business-driven research in agriculture has also been proven to by-pass marginal areas with small markets and is predisposed to focus on commercial farming in large-scale areas (Graff et al., 2006; Kerr and Kolavalli, 1999).

    Similarly, in the field of biotechnology in health sector, private sector research and development (R&D) has been geared principally to markets and diseases where major significant profits can be made, and these are not in the poor areas of the world where a large effective market does not exist. Thus, the so-called ‘90–10’ gap has emerged where only 10 percent of the overall world health research budget of US$50–60 billion is spent on the diseases that affect 90 percent of the world's population (Leach and Scoones, 2006). Further, new technologies to realize its ‘commercial potential’ where there are no pre-existing markets need the creation of the ‘market’ along with the new product (William and Edge, 1996). Where market is non-existent or thin—and which is often the case for new biotechnologies that directly cater to the poor's needs—there is no substitute for state intervention and massive state funding and support, most likely until an effective, fair, and competitive market would evolve.

    Making bio-innovation work for the poor also requires that the poor, the potential users and, the target beneficiaries should not only be given the option to buy and utilize, or not, only such new biotechnologies promoted by technology experts and government decision makers. Public engagement and people's participation should not be limited to ‘downstream’ and ‘back end’ of technology dissemination to promote acceptability or adapt these to local conditions (Leach and Scoones, 2006). Engagement of the public, particularly participation of the poor more importantly, should be in shaping of the biotechnology development agenda based on their own framing of issues and knowledge.

    Engagement of the public, particularly by the poor on bio-innovation efforts that are putatively relevant to poverty reduction, on the other hand, requires ‘bridging actors’, particularly intermediary civil society organizations (CSOs). CSOs can help to facilitate organization and articulation of the poor communities' voice in agenda setting from their own perspective, as well as actively monitor top-down impositions of innovation agenda. Unfortunately, in many developing countries in Asia, CSOs' current capacity and actual role in engagement in public policy in general, and in biotechnology government policy in particular, has been found to be grossly wanting (Case, 2002; Ho et al., 2006; Shigetomi, 2002). Except in very rare cases, in China and Southeast Asia, for instance, biotechnology has not been a field where NGOs have been active.

    Bridging actors who can communicate to the poor's own frame of meanings, culture, and language relevant issues of technology and science are also necessary in innovation. Without them, mutual understanding and dialogue between scientists, policy makers, and poor citizens cannot be achieved. These bridging individual actors are frontline government and nongovernment workers, professionals and social scientists, and development practitioners who are specially trained and committed to the poor's meaningful participation and engagement in bio-innovation issues and respect for local culture. They are, however, not commonly deliberately factored in bio-innovation programs for poverty alleviation (Leach and Scoones, 2006).

    Multiplicity and convergence of factors and contexts for bio-innovation and biotechnology to reduce poverty illustrates that it is indeed dangerous and risky to treat biotechnology and bio-innovation development as a set of separate, stand-alone issues. Contrary to common present-day practice and dominant perspectives on biotechnology development and its poverty alleviation claims, what may be more productive and promising is to subordinate technology and innovation components to an overall poverty alleviation strategy framework that is based on the analysis of dynamics, processes, context, and trajectories of people's livelihood and welfare in a given region within a country.

    Bio-Innovation and Poverty in This Volume's Empirical Cases

    This volume explores how bio-innovation might be linked to the problem of poverty and its reduction through an inquiry into a number of empirical cases of present-day bio-innovation in a number of countries in Asia, viz., Cambodia, China, India, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. This set of countries, of course does not exhaust the complete list of countries in the region that have employed bio-innovation projects for an explicit or tacit purpose of contributing to poverty alleviation. Nonetheless, this selection of country cases does provide a sufficient mosaic of experiences in Asia from where we could tease out and characterize several important and critical factors whose convergence and mutual interactions illumine and define the links between bio-innovation and certain poverty alleviation outcomes. These cases span a wide range of small-scale community intervention projects and large-scale, macro state programs, with multiple focal levels, and at various stages of planning, implementation, and maturation. The forms of bio-innovation in the cases studied here comprise new technology applications and adoption in the fields of medicine, fish farming, rice cultivation, genetically modified organism (GMO) cotton, organic vegetables, safe water supply provisioning, and fuel for cooking. But the basic point of departure of inquiry in each case examined is actual and/or potential ameliorative effect on the poor of each bio-innovation initiative.

    Thus, the central question being addressed in these various case studies is: In what ways, and under what circumstances and conditions, do certain bio-innovations affect the poor and poverty alleviation? What may be the critical factors and conditions for improving bio-innovations' positive impact on poverty alleviation?

    In the following sections, we present some important insights from the cases that shape particular bio-innovations and their effects on poverty alleviation. We have divided the discussions into four major themes: (a) actual, direct, and prospective benefits for the poor; (b) absence of positive impacts and institutional constraints; (c) major drivers of pro-poor outcomes; and (d) embedding bio-innovation in anti-poverty strategies.

    Actual, Direct, and Prospective Benefits for the Poor

    Some of the cases show clearly that bio-innovation does have positive impacts on the poor and thus contributes to poverty alleviation. Geeta Bastakoti in her chapter (Chapter 15) on small-scale aquaculture project in Chitwan, Nepal presents findings of an aquaculture livelihood project in a community directly benefitting the poor families in terms of income and nutritional intake. The poor women who participated in the project have become more socially empowered. This particular project utilized available plots nearby poor farmers' residence for digging ponds, introduced new tilapia fish species, used readily available family labor, and, in addition, added vegetable growing in the ponds for supplementing the family's food consumption. At the subsistence level, the new technology impacts positively on the poor households' nutrition. However, commercial up-scaling that can result into more significant increases in the households' income would put adopters to squarely face market risks and potential losses, in the absence of significant state and private sector support. But even at the current subsistence level of production, lack of both suitable land for households and support services and technical information is already constraining aquaculture production.

    Actual and potential benefits of bio-innovation are also evident in cases of new technology applications that have a direct and immediate bearing on self-employment and income, and health conditions of adopter farmers. Juthathip Chalermphol's chapter (Chapter 8) on the surge of high-input vegetable production in north Thailand's Chiang Mai province illustrates how adoption by farmers of commercial organic vegetable cropping has raised their household incomes, enabled them to save on medical expenses, which otherwise would have been incurred due to health diseases related to pesticide use. Adoption of organic farming has also enhanced farmers' social networking capacity. In this case, the shift to organic farming therefore fitted perfectly with these farmers' need for self-employment often found lacking in the peri-urban areas. It is however unclear whether these small holders, with comparatively good literacy and more or less adequate land assets are indeed considered ‘poor’ farmers, and thus whether income gains have alleviated local poverty. This particular success case, however, provides an insight into, and highlights the importance of, the presence of certain key livelihood assets and the importance of networking for poor households.

    The actual economic benefits for the poor are presented in Wei Geng's chapter (Chapter 13) on edible mushroom cultivation and trade. She presents solid and clear evidence from her case study of China's Gutian County in Fujian province and Qingquan County in Zhejiang province that adoption of mushroom cultivation by mostly poor farmers has indeed increased their net income and diversified their livelihood portfolio. In her study, she found that for most households engaged in mushroom cultivation, one yuan invested brought an average 1.7 yuan of income in profit and wages. As a result, many small farmers have entered mushroom cultivation, accounting for 81 percent of household income in Qingquan and 49 percent in Gutian counties.

    Zhang and Min's study on the benefits and risks of adoption of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton in China (Chapter 10), also concludes that Bt cotton adoption has had significant positive impacts for the small and poor farmers. Examining a number of existing studies on Bt cotton adoption in China, the authors state unequivocally that poor and small farmers who adopted Bt cotton have benefited in terms of reduction in chemical pesticide use, more intensive employment of labor input, and increase in cotton yields. Women too have become an important force in production, management, and decision making particularly where increasingly many male farmers have temporarily migrated to cities for work. However, these pro-poor economic benefits have now come under real threat under new endogenous factors (such as new pest species) and exogenous factors (such as the pull of migration of farm labor for lucrative urban work and the recent shift in government policy to prioritize grain crops). In addition, there is a trend now of Bt cotton shifting from the modality of smallholder (1–2 mu) to larger-scale farming (200–400 mu) involving better educated farmers. This implies that smallholders are now in a relatively more difficult and disadvantageous position, which could pose negative implications for the poverty profile in these areas.

    Not all cases in this volume provide evidence of actual and direct bene fits of bio-innovation to the poor, but only suggest or infer these gains. For example, positive effects on poverty and the poor have been extrapolated through the use of cost–benefit analysis from proxy indicators through surveys of the poor population. Marlon Sepe's chapter (Chapter 11) on the impact of biosand filter (BSF) on access to safe drinking water in rural communities of the Philippines is principally a survey-based extrapolation of the health benefits of households and ecological benefits that can be derived from purifying and making safe water available through the use of BSF. Using such technology, he argues, can enhance the quality of drinking water, removing toxic elements, and enabling users to avoid water-borne diseases and associated expense in medical treatment. According to figures presented, BSF can provide 22 times more benefits to its users compared to its initial costs.

    Ambiguity of Pro-Poor Impacts and Major Constraints

    Other cases in this volume examined, do not give as clear results or direct findings on their impacts on poverty. The reason may be because the new technology introduced failed to take off as innovation and was largely not adopted by the poor and the non-poor farmers despite their claims of cost-saving, labor-absorption, or ecologically friendly properties. This is due to the ambiguity of the poor sector's own participation or their exclusion from the spread of bio-innovation. In some cases, the dominant institutional landscape complementing the spread and use of innovation has become a major constraint for the poor to access and adopt these technologies. Yet, these particular cases still do provide insights, although not directly, on the poverty impacts and poor but on the workings of, and specific circumstances, constraining and enabling factors for bio-innovation to make a difference in poverty alleviation.

    Penalba et al.'s study (Chapter 5) of the potential of bio-fertilizers in helping poor farmers underscores the huge challenge when new technology would have to displace rampant and traditionally pervasive use by farmers of inorganic fertilizer. Among a host of other factors, effective major demand for organic fertilizers remains developed in the farming sector due to low awareness of the fertilizers' laboratory- and pilot farm-tested 50 percent increase in yield of rice farming. To adopt bio-innovation, farmers need to be convinced beyond doubt, since many, especially the poor ones, are traditionally risk averse. This resolve of farmers to shift to bio-fertilizer could only emerge from understanding and experience of bio-fertilizers' overall advantages vis-à-vis their traditional use of inorganic fertilizers in all aspects, not only in yield terms (i.e., easy access to market distributors, shelf-life of the fertilizer, loan financing of purchase). Many market and state policy factors do not make the right impression on farmers for them to forego inorganic fertilizers in production and shift to what they perceive as a ‘risky’ new product. This case highlights the importance of seriously taking into account local cultural and knowledge landscapes pertinent to new technologies and perceived risks as an essential part of enabling farmers to adopt bio-innovations.

    Unlike the bio-fertilizer's case whose potential benefit for poor farmers could not be realized due to the farmers' own hesitation or lack of awareness to employ the novel input, a new technology may spread fast and become pervasive in the agriculture sector, and yet the poor as a result, could be left behind in gaining optimal benefits. In this case, the spread of technology comparatively favors more the rich farmers who use their inherent advantages to obtain huge profits. Hue et al.'s findings (Chapter 2) show how the use of probiotics in shrimp cultivation in Khanh Hoa commune in Soc Trang province in south Vietnam has indeed resulted in income increase (by almost 50 percent) among only one-third of poor farmers' population. There is a remarkable social differentiation resulting from the use of bio-products and micro-organic products. Better-off shrimp farmers, who possess larger farms, are relatively more advantaged in terms of management skills, more technical know-how and financial capital, and access to loan assistance and early training by outreach workers. These assets allow them to employ better quality and larger amounts of bio-products. On the other hand, without these resources, and particularly without significant government assistance to access loan, and also without sufficient training exposures, most poor households, especially female-headed ones, are left behind in reaping the benefits of bio-innovation.

    A more or less similar message comes out of another innovative technology of biogas plants promoted by the government with Dutch support in rural areas of Vietnam (Chapter 7). Introduction of biogas plants in context of aggregate increases in total count of livestock in rural districts of the country was deemed to be an appropriate and beneficial technology. Indeed, the technology was widely adopted, with such positive results as household savings in fuel costs and purchase of chemical fertilizers, further increase in local livestock, job creation for local masons, and gender-responsive effects in reducing women's work load and time traditionally devoted to firewood collection and manure transport in the fields, and improvement of hygiene in the adopter households. However, the poor households were excluded from adopting this new technology from the very start due to the fact that they do not have sufficient number of livestock and manure to viably run the plant. Neither do they have capital to spend upfront for the construction of the plant. Most households are actually perpetually in debt. They also did not qualify for the government's formal loan program to avail the technology. Most of these poor households get credit support traditionally from informal mechanisms such as kinship and local credit groups, which was not considered at all as a possible medium of lending by the government and donor groups for the biogas program.

    When there is an absence of a particular and strong pro-poor focus in government-initiated bio-innovation programs, then aspects of the design and specific mechanisms to serve poverty purposes may altogether be absent. The case examined by Sunita Sangar (Chapter 4) about the promotion and production of bio-fertilizers in Tamil Nadu in south India points to the lack of pro-poor targeting, especially by state actors, in various domains of the innovation system. In this case, the potential benefits of bio-innovation to the poor have not been realized.

    Shackley and Carter (Chapter 14) show a positive association between improved cook stoves (ICS) that can produce biochar for soil application, on one hand, and attain the goal of poverty alleviation on the other, thus remaining indirect and provisional. One of the main reasons is that the designers' perspective of the stove rather than the users' dominates the process of technical innovation. The designers view carbon abatement as the overriding goal, which does not necessarily fit small and poor farmers' motivation for using the stove. Consequently, difficult trade-offs arise between poverty alleviation purposes and the chief aim of the stove to serve ecological sustainability.

    Even if innovation of new drugs has provided cures for people inflicted with certain life-threatening diseases, existing market mechanism based on protection of private sector investments and institutional arrangements on IPRs can make these drugs inaccessible to the poor in middle-income countries. Oh shows (Chapter 8) how international patenting and IPRs system have served as major constraints in developing new vaccines for public health in middle-income countries such as Thailand. These institutional barriers to vaccine development for public health harm the substantial population of low-income and poor in these countries.

    Similarly, the case studied by Ma examining the new drugs to treat leukemia (Chapter 3) shows how the medicine's potential for helping people afflicted with leukemia disease in South Korea is not realized due to the pharmaceutical company's unaffordable pricing. She points out how the global order, particularly the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the local policies of South Korea in drug pricing and health insurance, have prevented access to the drug produced by the transnational corporation Novartis by poor patients.

    State Intervention and Altering of Market Mechanisms for Poverty Alleviation

    It is clear from a number of cases examined here that strong interventionist state policies and programs have to be made to unlock or optimize the potential benefits of bio-innovations for the poor. Decisive state actions and measures are needed particularly because pertinent new technologies are not being introduced in a vacuum. But rather they confront an actually existing market and distribution environment whose dominant products the innovative products have to compete with. In the farming sector, for example, major private business firms that produce and distribute conventional chemical-based farm inputs dominate the environment. Penalba's and Sangar's case studies thus argue for strong policy intervention and a reversal of traditional government support for chemical-based fertilizers. In the two cases, the policy area deemed critical to the spread of bio-fertilizers, especially low-income and poor farmers, pertains to availability of loans to users of organic fertilizers. Distributors of conventional chemical-based fertilizers dispose their products on loan to farmers, obviously an attractive scheme that perpetually ties the latter to dependence on chemical inputs in farming. Without massive public sector support that provides similar loans for bio-fertilizer users, bio-innovation technology becomes comparatively unattractive to resource-poor farmers. Moreover, Sangar also shows the need for a major state policy shift from the current centralized approach in production of bio-fertilizer to a decentralized one to make it more accessible to the poor farmers in remote areas.

    The need for strong pro-poor bias in state responses in bio-innovation need not be in the form of redistributive policy tools such as providing direct marketing or production subsidies. Distributive policy responses particularly targeting the poor and low-income farmers to enhance access to information, knowledge, and training resources and for them to catch up on the biotechnology's rapid advance and advantages are equally necessary. Hue et al. (Chapter 2) show how, in the use of probiotics in the shrimp industry, poor shrimp farmers are often given the least priority by state aquaculture extension workers in sharing new knowledge, information, and training, while the better-off, already resource rich farmers keep in touch with, and are well informed about, appropriate methods and the latest techniques in probiotics. This has been an important factor resulting in further social differentiation in the spread of bio-innovation in shrimp farming in Vietnam.

    On the other hand, the findings on the importance of unbiased information and training access to farmers in mushroom cultivation in China by Geng contrast with the above-mentioned Vietnam case. As noted earlier, the spread of mushroom cultivation in China has clear positive effects for poverty alleviation. An important contributory component factor to its poverty reduction impact has been the role of public research institutes in technical support and dissemination of knowledge and information to all farmers. These institutes have conducted joint experiments and training among all classes of farmers on new technologies and cultivation methods and mushroom species. Outputs of collaboration, which have been boosted by government financial subsidies, are open to public access and learning, raising the competence of all farmers in mushroom cultivation, including that of poor farmers. Geng's article, however, puts an important caveat to the prospect of up-scaling mushroom enterprise. More financial resources are necessary if cultivators want to explore adding value through refined processing and employment of more sophisticated methods, including for packaging and marketing to more distant places. Poor cultivators in particular are currently disadvantaged in accessing the financial resources for up-scaling of their enterprises.

    Concerning new effective drugs in public health, improving their accessibility to the broader public, especially to lower-income and the poor groups, also needs strong government policy response. This is important to counteract certain regressive effects on new drugs by the global system in trade and IPRs. Ma describes the assertion of the South Korean government's sovereignty in drug pricing vis-à-vis the multinational corporation Novartis in making the anti-leukemia drug available for low-income and poor patients afflicted by the disease. On the other hand, Oh argues strongly for government action for the development of a patent pool to counter the constraints posed by international patenting system and IPRs to the development of new vaccines for public health interest of middle-income countries such as Thailand. Many middle-income countries, due to their economic development status, have already been excluded from preferential treatment and prioritization of certain drugs development in the global market and licensing arrangements. But low-income and poor people still comprise a major segment of the population who are particularly vulnerable to certain diseases needing affordable vaccines and treatments.

    Non-State and Autonomous Drivers of Pro-Poor Agenda in Bio-Innovation

    When the impact of market dynamics and state dominant policies in biotechnology adoption and innovation are biased for profit making by big transnational business firms, how can the poor assert their stake or cope with the burdens and pressures bearing upon them?

    Ma's case study in South Korea documents and highlights the role played by patients' activism at the grassroots as an effective counterweight to top-down policy making and operation for excessive profit making by a transnational pharmaceutical company. Using the concept of therapeutic mobilization and activism, she provides evidence of how patients have become empowered to achieve the goal of fair and equitable access to essential anti-leukemia medicine, and how various non-state actors have played a vital role to fiscalize actions of pro-market state and sole profit-orientation by the corporate medical industry. The combined actions of non-state societal actors in various arenas resulted in the drug becoming available to Korean leukemia patients free of charge, through the combined concessions of government support and extension of insurance coverage, and Novartis' own radical reduction in the price of the drug. Ma argues that when government regulatory efforts, as in this case, remain relatively weak or in a passive compliance mode vis-à-vis pressure from big pharmaceutical corporations, the civic organizations can take on the role of people's interest advocates to pressure the government to act on their behalf instead.

    In other cases examined in this volume, pro-poor agendas in bio-innovation have been driven and advanced by less dramatic, but no less effective, autonomous actions of societal actors. The case study (Chapter 6) of the ‘lazy garden’ approach to farming in north Thailand is an example of autonomous local innovations in managing both the farm and forest in the uplands that contribute in a major way to household resilience to market pressures and policy vagaries, and thus enabling them to avoid falling into poverty. Lebel et al. argue that given the vast majority of farmers in Mae Win Sub-District are poor by national standards, the building of social and ecological resilience through this innovative upland farming system is an important measure for advancing anti-poverty goals. However, like the other cases previously cited, redistributive state policies are needed in the particular areas of land tenancy and forest holdings where the lack of land ownership and access have constrained the poorest of the poor from adopting this effective resilience building approach.

    Rutherford's action-research of community supported agriculture (CSA) in Chiang Mai province in north Thailand (Chapter 12) is another remarkable example of autonomously driven initiative by farmers and non-state intermediaries to assert the poor's benefits in midst of the ill effects of chemical-based farming and the dominance of monopolistic features of commercial markets in farm produce. By directly linking the consumers and producers in a network based on fundamental cooperation and shared values on health, ecological, and livelihood benefits of organic farming, CSA has been able to carve small but effective niches providing resilience and security to poor farmers in the midst of pressures from production and marketing landscape dominated by big agri-business corporations. All indications show that CSAs are bound to multiply horizontally, enlisting more poor farmers and enlightened consumers alike in the network. However, just like other bio-innovations discussed in this volume, CSAs face an uphill battle to significantly displace at larger scales the dominance of chemical-based farming and marketing systems in the province.

    Embedding Bio-Innovation on a Clear Poverty-Alleviation Policy Agenda and Strategy

    Many of the cases examined here have their particular biotechnology and innovation program rationalized by broader national policy frameworks or agendas of the government that define major development goals other than poverty alleviation, or at best, only mentions the latter tangentially. Some of these overarching policy goals of the national government focused on the following: improving domestic food consumption and security; enhancing food exports; enhancement of particular crop yields and farm soil quality; creating by-products meant to economically and ecologically use manure from livestock population increase in the rural area; or a win–win goal to obtain both carbon mitigation and soil enhancement. Often in these policy rationalizations, the poor are assumed to be the main beneficiaries as well and thus these policies' contribution to poverty alleviation should naturally follow.

    The key finding of the studies in this volume is that such policy and program rationalizations that omit poverty alleviation goal or marginalize are not the way forward to create biotechnology and bio-innovation programs that can make a significant difference in alleviating poverty in given places and at different scales.

    As the cases presented here demonstrate, biotechnology and bio-innovations may have immediate and direct impacts for the poor and in reducing poverty more or less. However, there is nothing in this that is automatic and inevitable. Much would depend on the nature and context of the particular application of bio-innovation. Scale also matters in the potential of success. At a scale that is marginal, bio-innovation can immediately have an effective positive impact on a particular poor household's livelihood, with the possibility of multiplying such effects by enlisting more households in the same activity. However, as the cases examined here suggest, scaling up beyond household level replications faces stiff competition and challenges from conventional technology, and its marketing, distribution, and knowledge and training systems that are already in place and dominant at larger scales. These conventional systems traditionally enjoy the national government's support and cooperation of large and powerful transnational private firms.

    Actually existing market systems and their institutional trappings that are unavoidable in the access and distribution of innovative biotechnologies generally do not support their spread and use by the poor users. As such, even as many types of bio-innovations have certain latent properties that can be harnessed for the benefit of the poor such as health enhancement, production cost reduction, yield increase, such inherent attributes would not translate significantly as actual benefits to the poor. Appropriate access mechanisms for the poor of these technologies and associated knowledge and training resources are key mediating factor that will determine their impact on poverty. Existing market systems have to be altered therefore, including their institutional and legal underpinnings, to pave the way for the poor's effective access and use of these technologies. This market alteration certainly requires decisive state and non-state interventions.

    The cases here suggest too that strong state intervention (as well as non-state intermediaries' action) is needed not only to counter the impact of regressive features of actually existing markets that disadvantage the poor's particular access and benefits from new technologies and bio-innovation. State intervention too is indispensable in the form of proactive and distributive policies that target the poor specifically in terms of loan and financing assistance, knowledge and skills dissemination, and that also prioritize for implementation certain geographic locations where potential poor users and beneficiaries are most concentrated. Social policies have also to be put in place by way of anticipating unintended outcomes of the spread and use of bio-innovations such as the phenomenon of local economic growth and prosperity for the well-off being accompanied by greater inequality, with the poor becoming worse off in terms of welfare and benefits.

    That said, it becomes clearer that poverty alleviation goal should be the point of departure in rationalizing, identifying, and designing appropriate and relevant bio-innovations. The latter can neither be a stand-alone nor a central focus of program development with the expectation that it can produce decisively poverty reduction results. In the development of biotechnology that is justified more or less as poverty alleviation, the latter cannot be treated as an incidental agenda. The more important question to be posed therefore in understanding and planning poverty reduction-oriented bio-innovation is not how this or that given innovation can possibly impact on the poor. But rather it is more important to ask: What may be the required bio-innovation component—if any—of a given anti-poverty strategy and program in a certain place and scale?

    Conditions and trajectories of local livelihoods and the agenda of poverty alleviation should fundamentally frame the appropriateness of bio-innovation as a possible component. This should be the template for identifying and designing such type(s) of technical innovation and support institutional structures that are necessary, responsive, and effective. And as the many cases examined here illustrate, treating impact on poverty as an afterthought or as a positive but incidental factor ex post application of bio-innovation do limit the benefits, or even may generate adverse impacts, for the poor.

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  • About the Editors and Contributors


    Edsel E. Sajor is Associate Professor, School of Environment, Resources and Development, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand.

    Bernadette P. Resurrección is Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute, Thailand.

    Sudip K. Rakshit is Professor, Canada Research Chair and Interim Director Biorefining Research Institute, Canada.


    Alisa Arfue works with nongovernmental organizations on community rights, citizenship for miniorities, and community development issues in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai province.

    Rowena D.T. Baconguis is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, Pi Gamma Mu International Social Science Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society.

    Geeta Bhatrai Bastakoti is currently a PhD student at Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand. Her research interest focuses on looking into the gender relations and social aspects in livelihoods, natural resource management and agriculture.

    Sarah Carter works in the UK and in Asia for the UK Biochar Research Centre, and was in Cambodia for two years with Nexus-Carbon for Development.

    Juthathip Chalermphol is Lecturer at Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Faculty of Agricultural, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

    Rajesh Daniel is a writer, filmmaker and social science researcher specializing in the areas of environment and resource governance.

    Chi Hoang Lan Dinh is Lecturer at Can Tho Medical College and a cooperative researcher at Biotechnology Research and Development Institute, Vietnam.

    Wei Geng is Professor of International Economics at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics.

    Gam Bahadur Gurung served at Tribhuwan University as a faculty from 1985 to 1988. He worked with the British-managed Pakhribas Agricultural Centre involved in research projects from 1989 to 1997. Thereafter, he has been working with nongovernment and private organizations at different capacities involving research, development and business fields.

    Le Thi Van Hue is Lecturer and researcher at the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES), Vietnam National University, Hanoi.

    Wallratat Intaruccomporn is Lecturer at Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Faculty of Agricultural, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

    Rudy D. Lange is a Masters graduate of Econometrics from the University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City, Philippines.

    Louis Lebel is the Director of the Unit for Social and Environmental Research (USER) at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

    Phimphakan Lebel is a researcher and office manager at the Unit for Social and Environmental Research (USER), at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

    Eunjeong Ma is Assistant Professor in the Department of Creative IT Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea.

    Han Tuyet Mai is a researcher at the Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES), Vietnam National University, since 1993.

    Wan Min is Project Coordinator, CAB International, China

    Cecilia Oh is a consultant working on global policy research in international trade, public health and development.

    Merlyne M. Paunlagui is Director of the Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies, College of Public Affairs and Development, UP Los Baños.

    Linda M. Peñalba is currently an Associate Professor at the College of Public Affairs and Development, University of the Philippines Los Baños.

    Tuong Vi Pham was a researcher at Vietnam National University from 1991 to 2011, and a research coordinator at Center for Environment and Community Assets Development from 2004 to 2011. In January 2011, she moved to Sydney and is working as a project officer.

    Jobert C. Porras is a Masters in Nursing from Urios University. He has an extensive background in Community Healthcare and is active in various community development activities with his affiliated institution.

    Sunila Rai is Associate Professor in Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU), Chitwan, Nepal.

    Songphonsak Rattanawilailak is currently the Director of Pgaz k'Nyau Association for Sustainable Development-PASD, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    Jeff Rutherford is an independent consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    Joel N. Sagadal has a Diploma in Economics from the University of Southeastern Philippines. He has written and led various studies in the field of social and developmental economics.

    Sunita Sangar is Senior Research Officer, Poverty Alleviation and Economic Empowerment Domain of the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW), Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

    Marlon B. Sepe is currently affiliated with Ur Green Health Enterprise, Inc. (formerly Mindanao Center for Research and Development Cooperative or MCRDC) as a social research innovator.

    Simon Shackley is currently an advisor to the European Commission and Asian Development Bank on Biochar.

    Patcharawalai Sriyasak is a researcher at the Unit for Social and Environmental Research (USER), at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

    Tran Chi Trung is a researcher at Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES), Vietnam National University and a doctoral student at School of Geography, Planning & Environmental Management (GPEM), the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia.

    Qiaoqiao Zhang is Director, CAB International, China. Also, Guest Professor, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

    Yaoqi Zhang is Professor at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University.

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