Written by Mekong Institute  

Under the Cooperation Agreement among Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ-MFAT) and the Mekong Institute (MI), the twelve-day training course on “Agriculture Sector Value Chain Analysis and Promotion” was conducted by MI from August 19 – 30, 2013. Twenty- three government officials and NGO staff from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attended the training course. The course aimed at developing the participants’ professional capacity and broadening their horizon on the features, usefulness and benefits of the Value Chain Approach to local, national and regional economic development. The course was held at the MI Residential Training Facility in Khon Kaen with structured learning visits to rice and vegetable value chains in Khon Kaen, Thailand.  

The training course was designed and delivered using the modular training approach, of which, all participants went through three progressive stages: a) “Learn to do” – training on concepts, techniques and tools; b) “Do to learn” – participants are required to apply what they have learned in their work assignment with proper coaching; and c) “Share to learn” – participants had an opportunity to present their group work outputs and share their learning experiences and lessons learned.

The Mekong Institute worked closely with the Resource Person from New Zealand in the design and delivery of the training program. The training program was designed into 2 parts. The theoretical part was handled mostly by Dr. Sandra Kathleen Martin, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Faculty of Commerce, Lincoln University, New Zealand and Assoc Prof. Nongluck Suphanchaimat, Department of Agriculture Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University. The practical part which exposed the participants to actual rice and vegetable value chain was facilitated by MI staff and Thai Resource Persons from the field visit sites.

The training course was comprised of five interrelated modules. Module 1: “Overview of Value Chain” introduced the participants to the definition, characteristics, core concepts, and the need to adopt the Value Chain Approach. The benefits and importance of the value chain analysis were also presented. Module 2: “Value Chain Promotion as an Approach to Pro-Poor Economic Development” deepened their knowledge on the background of value chain promotion. It illustrated the role of value chain analysis as a useful tool for promoting sustainable rural development and poverty reduction. Module 3: “Tools in Value Chain Analysis” translated the concepts of value chains into practice, particularly in the agriculture sector, by using different case studies in Thailand. Potential intervention areas, to increase competitiveness in each case study, were formulated as well as the sharing of best practices in agriculture value chain development in other countries. Module 4: “Role of the Public Sector in Promoting Value Chains in the Agriculture Sector” illustrated the elements of an enabling environment which include, inter alia, policy and regulation, infrastructure, and availability of essential financial and business development services needed by enterprises. Such an “enabling environment” needs to be tabled and developed at a multitude of levels, including the local levels where real enterprises physically locate and operate, as well as at the national level. Module 5: “Role, Significance and Trends of Cross-Border Agricultural Trade” discussed the state of cross-border trade in the GMS and identified the corresponding constraints and key successful factors in promoting agricultural trade in the region.

The evaluations conducted throughout the course confirmed that the objectives were achieved and that the learning program was successful. Most of the participants were very satisfied with the program as shown in the total average rating by participants on the usefulness of the learning program at “3.7” and the overall assessment at “4.27”. Using a scale of 1 to 5, this indicated that the participants found the training program “useful” and were “very satisfied” with the program contents and overall training management.

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