Agricultural Development and Commercialization

As a result of the successful completion of and wonderful insights gained from last year’s program, Mekong Institute (MI), still through the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, is once again organizing the Regional Training Workshop on Planning and Implementing Contract Farming Operations, which is currently being held at the Mekong Institute Residential Training Center, Sept. 20-23. 

Aiming to build the capacity of government officials, development practitioners, non-governmental organization representatives, and private sector actors in facilitating market linkages through contract farming operations, the workshop is being attended by 17 participants from eight countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Venezuela. 

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, Executive Director of MI, thanked FAO for its strong support to Mekong Institute and for entrusting it to once again serve as the organizer for this FAO-funded training workshop. He briefly introduced the work of the institute, highlighting its three thematic areas, and went on to discuss the important role contract farming currently plays in poverty reduction within the region. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Ralph Houtman, Agricultural Officer for the FAO and resource person for this workshop, illustrated the strong demand and interest in contract farming operations nowadays during his Opening Remarks. Apart from his welcome speech, Mr. Houtman likewise gave an overview of FAO’s work on contract farming, citing its capacity building initiatives and technical support provision to various agricultural countries around the world, among others. 

This is the 5th time FAO is sponsoring such training workshop, and the 2nd time it was hosted by Mekong Institute. Being an MI “repeat” activity, this four-day short course is being re-conducted in the hope that the fruitful results the previous group achieved November of last year can be replicated, and be further improved on, by this year’s current set of participants. 

Apart from in-house sessions, the participants will likewise be brought outside the conference hall for two field visits – one in a tomato and asparagus farm under the Srichiengmai Industry Company Limited (SAI), and one in a broiler farm under the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group – during the second and third day of the training workshop, respectively. This would be done to further widen the participants’ understanding of actual contract farming situations in Thailand, as well as provide a venue to for them to interrogate the workings of contract farming from the other end of the spectrum – the farmers and producers – who, more often than not, are left unheard. 

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