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This workshop is a follow-up to the regional workshop on strategies for rehabilitation and management of salt-affected soil from seawater intrusion, held from 31 March to 1 April 2005, which provided an excellent opportunity for participants to share expertise and exchange information on rehabilitation efforts to support affected farming communities impacted upon by the devastating tsunami. Various approaches for reclamation and management of salt-affected soils for resumption of agricultural production applicable to the specific local conditions were discussed. Based on the findings and conclusions of the workshop, a "Regional Strategic Framework for the Reclamation of Salt-affected Soils and Agriculture Recovery in Tsunami affected Areas" was formulated and widely disseminated for use by various actors involved in the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector.

Immediately following the tsunami, FAO was actively involved in various ways in assisting the tsunami affected countries resume agricultural activities. In particular, a number of emergency assistance projects were launched to support farming communities who had lost their production capacity, assets and subsequently the means to support their livelihood. While such short-term emergency assistance was crucial, it is our conviction that a long-term, sustainable development approach is essential for "building back better" the affected rural communities. In this regard, one of the main challenges now is to identify suitable interventions for longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction of the agriculture sector. Such interventions should be carried out in a sustainable manner best suited to the local agro-ecological and socio-economic conditions. And for that an integrated and participatory approach is needed to identify promising technologies that could easily be adopted or adapted by local farmers.

In this context, FAO continues to collaborate with a number of national and international organizations such as related UN agencies, CGIAR centres, donor agencies, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide policy advice and technical support to national efforts for development of long-term rehabilitation plans and development strategies for the agriculture sector.

The overarching objective of this workshop was to assess the progress made so far in addressing the emergency needs for resumption of agricultural activities and ongoing rehabilitation activities so that policies and strategies could be developed to support strategizing longer-term rehabilitation efforts.

Report of the regional workshop on rehabilitation of agriculture in tsunami affected areas: one and a half years later

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations