Four years ago, the ECHO Asia Impact Center was just a dream. Through God’s leading and teamwork, we now celebrate four fruitful years and a successful leadership transition.
After a 15-year career in community development in Thailand, Rick and Ellen Burnette took the pioneer leadership role of ECHO’s first Impact Center. The last four years have allowed for exponential growth in the resources and services offered to the poor in the region, through ECHO. Last year, with prayer and God’s leading, Rick Burnette accepted the position to head ECHO’s Agricultural Department in Fort Myers, Florida. The leadership role of ECHO’s Asia Impact Center has been passed to Dr. Abram Bicksler, formerly the Research Advisor to the center. Abram has been joined by Boonsong Thansrithong, Agricultural Program Manager of the Center, and Rebecca Garofano, Office Manager. Abram has been active in the Impact Center since its inception, and we are very excited to see how the skills of the ECHO Asia team will continue to be used to reduce hunger and improve lives in Southeast Asia.
In just the last 12 months, the team at ECHO Asia has been incredibly active with research and educational opportunities for small-scale farmers throughout Asia:
- Staff and interns completed a year-long test of the effects of vacuum storage on seed viability. They submitted a paper to Experimental Agriculture Journal which was published, and they published their findings in ECHO Asia Notes for our Network Members. Abram also presented a poster paper at the Upland Conference in Hohenheim, Germany concerning the research.
- Workshops were held in Cambodia, India, Myanmar and the Philippines, with total attendance of 180 participants from all over southeast Asia.
- Field trials were completed regarding the performance of tropical vegetable fern and cover crop and vegetable varieties. A moringa trial and a biochar trial were also established.
- An earthbag house was constructed in order to study village-appropriate seed saving techniques.
- ECHO Asia staff and interns responded to 148 technical questions through the ECHOcommunity.org website.
- 172 individuals or organizations submitted requests for seeds, resulting in 3,149 sample packets of seed and 158.7 kg of bulk orders being distributed across Asia.
We are excited about the future of ECHO Asia, and the impact that it will have on lives in southeast Asia. Building on such a strong past, we look forward to a bright and life-changing future for ECHO’s first Regional Impact Center.