Allocution à l’occasion de la remise des insignes du Mérite Agricole au Professor Sathaporn Jittapalapong et au Professor Panomsak Promburom - Lundi 30 septembre 2019 à la Résidence de France

Dear Professor Sathaporn Jittapalapong,
Dear Professor Panomsak Promburom
Dear Associate Professor Khun Avorn Opatpanakit, Vice-President of Chiang Mai University ;
Dear Associate Professor Khun Sornprach Thanisawanyangkura, Vice-president of Kasetsart University ;
Dear representatives from Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi and from Chulalongkorn University ;
Dear representatives from research institutes, CIRAD, IRD, IRASEC ;
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you tonight at the Residence to honor two friends of France.

Let me begin by remarking that, in a way, it is fitting to have this ceremony organized on the day when, all over the world, we pay tribute to former President Jacques Chirac, who has always been the most popular French statesmen among farmers, because he was so fierce in the defense of their interests, in particular in the EU, but more importantly because he felt obviously very at ease among them.

I also want to take this occasion to stress how agriculture and agrofood products are an important part of the relationship between France and Thailand.

In 2018, it represented more than 500 million euros of trade, around 10% of our total exchanges of goods. The main exports from France are of course wine, cheese and meat products. I hope that a future FTA between the EU and Thailand could make it easier and cheaper for you to find these products in Bangkok.

French exporters are coming regularly to Thailand, 49 companies were in Bangkok this year for Viv Asia, with innovative products in animal nutrition, farm project design or equipment.

French agrofood companies are also investing in Thailand, in high value added products and research, for example Limagrain, with seeds. But Thai companies are also investing in France, such as Thai Union in MerAlliance with the tuna brand Petit navire. Last but not least, our cooperation in research projects is a key component of this relationship, and this is obviously why we are gathered here today.

Now, let’s have a brief historical reminder before tracing back the impressive careers of our two recipients. The Ministerial Order of “Mérite agricole” was created on July 7, 1883 by the French Minister Jules Méline to reward services provided to agriculture.

According to Mr. Méline, the agricultural world contributes "powerfully through its work to the development of public wealth" and he notes that "in this immense staff of farmers, agronomists, professors, scientists, hard work is relentless, devotions are numerous but rewards are rare ". This is why France has decided to reward women and men who have performed outstanding services for agriculture. Today, you will join the ranks of recipients such as Louis Pasteur, Cora Millet-Robinet (the first woman to receive the award) or even Prince Charles, to name a few

Dear Professor Sathaporn Jittapalapong,

You went through a remarkable career of teacher-researcher in parasitology. You have been particularly dedicated to improving animal production performances, with research studies on the vaccination of cattle against ticks, contributions on the knowledge and control of parasitic zoonoses, but also work on diagnosis and identification of pathogenic agents in food products as well as on the role of biodiversity in parasitological cycles affecting animals and humans.

In those endeavors, you developed network collaborations with partners from the USA, where you obtained your doctorate (PhD), South East Asian countries, where your notoriety is widely recognized, and Europe, particularly France, through collaborations with three of our major research institutions, namely CNRS, IRD and CIRAD.

In July 2006, you received a researcher from CIRAD (Dr Marc Desquesnes) jointly with the IRD delegate (Dr Michel Tibayrenc) to assess their project of collaboration with a Thai institution in the field of parasitology. Out of the meetings they had with several Thai institutes or universities in Thailand, in their memory of researchers, they both agreed that your interview had the toughest of all ! However you were also able to detect the enthusiasm, zeal and tenacity of your visitors, since you further on proposed them to join Kasetsart University !
Thus, jointly implementing research and development programs for more than 13 years, and hosting under the cover of the TICA, researchers from IRD, CIRAD and CNRS at Kasetsart University, you made a fruitful expansion of research possible. It has led to more than 35 scientific publications and 50 communications, associating Thai and French authors, notably in the domain of parasitology and vectors in Thailand and in the field of human, animal and zoonotic diseases. You have alsostrongly contributed to the spreading of the « One-Health » concept in South-East Asia, notably through the GREASE network that you constantly supported.

Never shying away from difficult tasks, you managed to become the coordinator of the XIth international meeting and First regional meeting of the Society of tropical Veterinary Medicine. Your help was requested again with a new TICA « Innovative Animal Health » project that you agreed to support, jointly with French researchers and the Faculty of Veterinary Technology that you are currently leading.

You participated, facilitated and promoted the development of joint research at the regional and international levels, contributing to several projects supported by the French Research Agency (ANR), jointly with Montpellier University, CNRS, Veterinary School of Toulouse and CIRAD, with which you created the Franco-Thai Master program named MIVA, then InterRisk.

You also contributed to the spreading of professional knowledge by co-organising with CIRAD and various South-East Asian research institutions a series of Training-Workshops on rodent as pathogen’s reservoirs, and on trypanosomes and their vectors in humans and animals in South East Asia, notably with the support of the French Embassy.

Today you will officially receive an important distinction ; let us be reminded that some of your colleagues from France, Laos, Spain and Thailand have already honored your contributions. In 2015, they gave your name to a newly described rodent nematode species, named “Breinlia jittapalapongi”. Thus your name is already unforgettable, at least in the taxonomic science !

To sum up, in the current long term collaboration with the French research teams, you are involved in programs which have brought significant improvements to the agricultural research, academic teaching and professional capacity building. Your action and your merit in agricultural development are recognized through this nomination.

Professor Sathaporn Jittapalapong, au nom du ministre de l’agriculture, je vous fais chevalier de l’ordre du mérite agricole.

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Dear Professor Panomsak Promburom,

You were for many years one of the key players in the agrarian systems research center of Chiang Mai University. You have conducted research both in the hills of northern Thailand and on the Isan Plateau. When you started your thesis, you chose to focus on the French university system (with CIRAD and the French University of Paris-Nanterre) rather than on Australia, the United States, England or Japan, attracted that you were by the French school on agrarian systems. I know that the good contacts that Mr. Guy Trébuil maintained in the 1990s with the University of Chiang Mai and your professors, Mehti and Benchaphun Ekasingh, helped you make the choice of France for the originality of its approaches and the high reputation of CIRAD.

You then completed your thesis on an integrated approach of agriculture in a watershed by focusing on the processes of negotiation between farmers to manage deforestation and water sharing issues.

Your work in Thailand has introduced a new posture for researchers in the field of agriculture, moving from the posture of expert knowledge holder to a supportive posture that seeks to promote the expression of local knowledge for a co-construction between researchers and farmers. This work has been carried out most often with the vulnerable farmers, helping to increase their capacity to take into account and respond to natural hazards and social constraints.

Throughout your scientific collaborations, notably in the framework of the GREASE regional research network, you have demonstrated an impressive ability in systems thinking and deep understanding of complex issues and people.

Your adaptability and innovative spirit during workshops and trainings have amazed many people, especially in the context of the ComAcross project of which you were the real "champion" !

You are driven by a burning and inexhaustible scientific and human curiosity, which has pushed you to navigate between various research topics, ranging from agriculture to global health. Such curiosity has led you to redefine conceptual and methodological frameworks and bring together networks of various actors. Your thirst for knowledge, your warm nature and tremendous ability to connect with others have resulted in fruitful exchanges. First, by feeding stimulating friendly intellectual discussions, but also, literally, by feeding people. You are a true “bon vivant”, in the "Thai way” and "French way". You cook, like to share your recipes and enjoy preparing Thai delicacies for your colleagues ! During your visits to France, notably for your doctorate (almost 20 years ago...), you cooked for a whole group of French and Filipino students in a small studio from the student residence of “Occitanie” in Montpellier. Thai meals and French wine were delicious, fostering discussions about participatory science and the world in general, until late in the night...

Those who were lucky to have met you at that time can still rediscover today a fascinating and inspiring man. For many French researchers, you were much more than just a colleague, you became a precious friend.

Professor Panomsak Promburom, you are a reserved yet very charismatic man who shows an impressive rigor at work. Your determination to fine-tune data analyses, research protocols and scientific presentations by flashlight in the field or under the glaring light of hotel lobbies, has impressed more than one researcher and student ! You do not give up and get to the bottom of research issues. You truly believe in the fact that science, led in a participatory manner with the commitment of all, can help make things happen.

Working with you is therefore a privilege and your colleagues are proud to accompany you in the GREASE network, an adventure that began almost 3 decades ago between you and the French researchers.

These French researchers in Thailand and representatives of our French institutions are fully aware that their achievements would not have been possible without your unfailing support so they are, in turn, fully and unequivocally supporting you in today’s nomination.

Professor Panomsak Promburom, au nom du ministre de l’agriculture, je vous fais chevalier de l’ordre du mérite agricole.

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publié le 23/10/2019

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