SALSA partnership platform launched in Malaysia and Indonesia

operator 1807549 1920(Image source: sasint/pixabay)Michel Eddi, CEO of CIRAD, joined the former President of France Fran├žois Hollande during his State visit to Southeast Asia on March 28-30, 2017

On this occasion, he initiated with several CIRAD partners the construction of the SALSA (Sustainable Agricultural Landscapes in Southeast Asia) platform in partnership dedicated to the sustainability of perennial crop systems throughout the region. The launch of this ambitious scientific platform, in which training will be a pivotal component, was formalised by the signing of two multilateral agreements, under the patronage of the French President, in the presence of the Prime Minister of the Malaysian Government and the President of the Republic of Indonesia. 

The issue of the sustainability of tropical commodity chains is a major one in Southeast Asia. The recurrent public debate around the impacts of oil palm cultivation, in particular, crystallises opinions and has direct consequences on the relations between France and producing countries. This is reflected in the discussions on the recent French law proposal suggesting high differential taxation of palm, palm kernel and coconut oils, which resulted after several weeks of public debate in an exemption from any taxation for certified sustainable vegetable oils.

Thanks to its extensive scientific expertise in perennial crops, CIRAD is exploring the necessary changes in tropical agricultural sectors as regards the three components of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. 

SALSA (Sustainable Agricultural Landscapes in Southeast Asia) aims to federate and mobilize regional scientific and training skills in the sustainability of perennial crops sectors. SALSA will promote, within a framework of collective action, the concrete integration of disciplines and multi-stakeholder teams into research, training and development projects that will be conducted on the ground through shared experimental networks and academic and training curricula tailored to the needs for present and future skills.

According to Michel Eddi: "It is a question of being able to propose frameworks of actions and instruments to the public authorities and economic and social actors, in countries from both global North and South, making it possible to progress substantially towards the Sustainability objective, which today is not achieved. The aims are to enrich the incentive tools in the context of public policies in order to promote sustainability, to improve and to make some convergence in the existing certification systems and to set up independent observatories aimed at qualifying and assessing progress made by all actors at the service of this collective ambition. "

In Malaysia, CIRAD has developed a network of partners which has been building since 2009 on the assignment of research officers to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The first circle of members involved in the construction of the SALSA platform consists of Universiti Putra Malaisia, the ASAHIL network of ASEAN universities and the University of Montpellier.

In Indonesia, the founding members of SALSA are the two plantation companies PT SMART and PT Socfindo, which have long been engaged with CIRAD on field research on the sustainability of oil palm and rubber plantations. Another member is PT RPN, the national plantation crop research network, and also the Asian Pacific Coconut Community, the regional association of coconut-producing countries, an institutional partner under the aegis of the United Nations.

New institutional partners, universities, research centres, private institutions or NGOs will gradually be integrated around this initial nucleus, including from other countries in the region such as Thailand.

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