Testimonial at the ACIAR-Laos Country Partnership Discussion
By: Mr Sonevilay Nampanya
19 Octobber 2016
My name is Sonevilay Nampanya. It is my great honour to be invited to participate in the Country Partnership Discussion and to share some of my good memories as a former ACIAR John Allwright Fellowship.
First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the government and people of Australia for providing this vital educational opportunity through the ACIAR John Allwright Fellowship (JAF). Without it, I would not be able to support my overseas study in Australia and not to mention, completing a PhD thesis.
Coming from a rural village in Savannakhet Province in southern Laos, I fully appreciated that education opportunities are very hard to come by and if given that opportunity, you have to make the most out of it. I am very privileged and honoured to be a part of the prestigious ACIAR JAF program. I still have very clear memory of the day while on my way to field work, I received a text message of congratulations on my JAF application result from Prof. Peter Windsor, my supervisor and Dr Doug Gray, formal ACIAR Animal Health Manager. It was just a wonderful day!
My involvement with an ACIAR project started in 2008 and currently I am working on the Lao beef project as research officer. I think one of the advantages of being a student under the JAF program is that I have the opportunity to work with a research team and learn from experts associated with an ongoing ACIAR project. In my case, I am very privileged to do my research with an ACIAR project under leadership of Prof. Peter Windsor from the University of Sydney and Dr Syseng Khounsy of the Department of Livestock and Fisheries. It has given me the opportunity to learn from them and also observe how they work with critical thinking and open mindedness. I am very proud that many of my thesis chapters are published in a well known journal with high impact factors. But most importantly, I am very pleased that my research is useful and applicable to many Lao smallholder farmers. In particular, it shows them the financial impact of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) on their household incomes and how to improve large ruminant productivity. All these support the Lao government’s policy on food security and rural poverty reduction.
The endemic causes of those important diseases such as FMD are not just about a failure of vaccination programs but perhaps failure of bio-security practices and extension. We might not be working hard enough to improve farmers’ knowledge, attitude and practices.
When I look back at the past four years as a JAF scholar, I can see that I have come a long way. Without the John Allwright Fellowship, my education journey may not be possible.