Written by Mekong Institute

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Mekong Institute (MI) agreed to collaborate on a specific project to develop partnership and promote cooperation between the two parties. The six-day Structured Learning Visit (SLV) on “Agricultural Planning and Investments in Thailand” was conducted from 20 to 25 January 2014 for 16 government officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vientiane Capital, Attapeu, Luang Nam Tha and Sayabouli provinces, as well as GIZ Local and International Advisor. The SLV aimed to provide participants with first-hand information and expose them to new ideas on planning and investment in agriculture sector in Thailand.  

Two MI facilitators were involved in organizing the program, translating, facilitating discussions, and sharing experiences with the participants. Dr. Apichart Pongsrihadulchai the Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC), was invited to share his knowledge and experiences on agriculture planning systems in Thailand to participants before the field visit. The participants visited six places in four provinces of the Northeastern and Central Thailand namely; Region 4 Office of Agricultural Extension and Development in Khon Kaen province, concerned government offices, Thayang Agricultural Cooperative and a banana farm in Phetchaburi province, Chedi Hak Community Rice Seeds Promotion and Production Center in Ratchaburi province and Taniyama Siam Company and a asparagus farm in Nakhon Pathom province. At the end of the SLV, the participants from each province presented their reflections on what they learned and which practices can be applied upon their return. The participants appreciated most the knowledge gained on crop prioritization and agricultural land zoning systems, which involved many organizations and the use of several analytical tools. They also appreciated and would like to apply the knowledge gained from contract farming and formation and management of cooperatives. They learned how different stakeholders work together to support farmers through cooperatives and contract farming. However, participants also knew that not all knowledge gained from this SLV can be applied in Lao PDR directly due to differences in cultural context and administrative systems. The results of the evaluation conducted throughout the program showed that this SLV was successful both in attaining the program objectives and meeting the participants’ expectations. The participants also mentioned that the program was relevant to their work. Most of the participants were fully satisfied with the program as shown in the average rating of “4.81” on the overall satisfaction to the program, using a scale of 1 to 5. However, there were some suggestions for improvement such as extending the duration of the program to 7 days, selecting new sites to reduce traveling time, and allocating more time for open discussion.

The participants also indicated that this SLV enhanced their knowledge and skills, hence would like similar activities on participatory planning system, promotion of safe agriculture, marketing and promotion of products, contract farming system, gender mainstreaming strategy for the government sector, operational system of Thai government, and strategic planning system to enhance GMS and ASEAN connectivity

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