Written by Mekong Institute  

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Mekong Institute (MI) agreed to collaborate on a specific project to develop partnership and promote cooperation between the two parties. Two five-day Structured Learning Visits on “Farmerled Community Enterprises” were conducted from December 19
to 23, 2012 and January 9 to 13, 2013 for 70 district officials and farmers from Puok, Sotnikhom, Varin, Banteay Srei, Angkor Chum, Kralanh Districts under Green Belt project. The Structured Learning Visit aimed to provide first hand information and xpose participating e farmers in how Thai smallholder farmers and local producers add value to their products.  

Three MI facilitators were involved in organizing the program, translating, facilitating discussions, and sharing experiences with the participants. The participants visited five places namely; Sriviroj Farm Co., Ltd. and Sum Sung Safe and Chemical Free Vegetable Growers Group in Khon Kaen province, Thalad Sour Fish Group in Nong Bua Lumphu province, Ban Jod Women Livelihood Development Group in Roi-et province, and Surin Rice Fund Organic Agriculture Cooperatives Ltd. in Surin province. At the end of each Structured Learning Visit, the participants presented their reflections on what they have learned, which practices they can apply when they return and what are the difficulties that prevent them from applying the gained knowledge.

The results of the evaluations conducted throughout the program showed that both Structured Learning Visits were successful both in attaining the program objective and meeting participants’ expectations. Most of the participants were satisfied with the program as shown in the average rating by participants on the overall satisfaction to the program at 4.89. Using a scale of 1 to 5, this indicated that participants were fully satisfied with the program in terms of program design and contents, as well as the overall organization and management of the program. However, there were some
suggestions for improvement such as including field visits to poultry and swine farms and extending the duration of the program to 7 days.

The participants also indicated that this Structured Learning Visit encouraged them as farmers to take active action for their livelihood and requested to organize again next year.

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