Written by Mekong Institute  

Under the project on Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along East-West Economic Corridor, the Mekong Institute (MI) in collaboration with Japan ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) conducted a five-day Workshop cum Structured Learning Visit on Agriculture Sector Value Chains and SME Export Consortia from 26 to 30 March 2012. The workshop was held at Mekong Institute Residential Training Center, Khon Kaen City and the structured learning visits was arranged to study agriculture value chains in Nakhon Ratchasima and Export Consortia in Central Provinces of Thailand.

The training was attended by 25 participants comprising of executive members of CCIs, SME processors and business owners from Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.  

The structured learning visit aims to encourage small scale agricultural production groups to add value to their products and connect the SMEs into Regional Value Chains through collaboration and business tie ups to form export consortiums.

Five MI facilitators were involved in organizing the program, facilitating discussions and sharing experiences with the participants. The participants visited Nakhon Ratchsima, Ayutthaya, Nakornpathom and Bangkok provinces in Thailand and interacted with potential investors and shared experiences to identify business prospects. At the end of the Structured Learning Visit, the participants presented their reflections on the visit.

To understand the effectiveness and challenges of the workshop, different evaluation methods were employed for assessment. The result of the evaluation shows that participants were highly satisfied with the program. They also regarded the resource persons as effective in helping them to understand the contents of the training.

From the result of the pre- and post-training self-evaluation, it is clear that there is significant improvement participants knowledge in agricultural value chain and SME cluster development. Therefore, the training is considered achieving its objectives the fact which is also proved by the result of workshop evaluation. (Please see evaluation part of the report for details).

The results of the evaluation showed that the workshop was successful both in terms of program design and contents and overall organization and management. According to the participants, such a program should be organized more frequently in the future.

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