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Listing 114 publications.

Mekong Development Report 2016

Mekong Development Report 2016

Category: Innovation and Technological Connectivity, Completion Reports
Year: 2016
Link: Download

Written by Mekong Institute

Launched in 1998, the East-West Economic Corridor—encompassing the less developed provinces of  Myanmar,  Lao  PDR,  Thailand,  and  Vietnam—is  one  of  the  fagship  initiatives  of  the  Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)  in order to improve the economic situation of these areas. Although countries in the EWEC have recently experienced sheer economic growth, unfortunately this growth is unbalanced with the industrial sector growing faster than the agricultural sector, contributing to worsening  income  inequality.  This  problem  needs  to  be  addressed  and  tackled  urgently  as  the majority of population depends largely on agriculture, which is declining in its importance. Taken this issue into account, this comprehensive document focuses on three specifc agricultural value chains in three target provinces - a rice value chain in Khammouane province of Lao PDR, a coffee value chain in Quang Tri province of Vietnam, and a maize value chain in Kayin State of Myanmar – in order to address prospects and constraints for value chain development, examine costs and margin  for  each  actor  in  the  value  chain,  and  suggest  actions  to  minimize  the  constraints  and maximize the prospects.


Planning and Implementing Contract Farmning Operations

Planning and Implementing Contract Farmning Operations

Category: Agricultural Development & Commercialization, Completion Reports
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute


Interest in contract farming as a mechanism to coordinate linkages between farmers and agribusiness firms has grown significantly in the recent past, largely due to the international trends towards tighter alignment in agri-food supply chains. Because of its large but untapped potential in improving the lives of smallholder farmers, and enhancing agricultural productivity in general, contract farming has become a subject of interest of researchers, agriculturists, development workers, and farmers, among others, all over the world.  With this high demand for knowledge likewise comes the rising need for information-dissemination, technical assistance, and capacity-building programs that intend to educate various professionals concerned in this line of work.

Aiming to build the capacity of Southeast Asian participants in dealing with issues related to facilitating market linkages through contract farming operations, the Rural Development Department of the Mekong Institute (MI), with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), conducted a four-day regional training workshop entitled “Planning and Implementing Contract Farming Operations” at the Mekong River Conference Hall, MI Annex, last Nov. 23-26.

The program was attended by junior to mid-level officials from Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, Industry and Trade; extension agents; professionals from research and academic institutions; development project personnel; agribusiness private sectors representatives; and farmer group production and marketing leaders. Twenty-five participants, 15 of which were fully-funded by FAO and 10 of which are self-funded, have been selected for this course, each coming from twelve different countries – Cambodia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Dr. Carlos da Silva, Senior Agribusiness Economist of FAO-Rome, and Mr. Ralph Houtman, Agribusiness Officer of FAO-Regional Office of Asia and the Pacific, facilitated the whole training workshop. Each of them discussed various topics in contract farming, specifically emphasizing how to plan and set up contract farming operations, as well as the considerations on legal aspects of contract design and reinforcement. After each topic, the participants were given the opportunity to ask questions, which gave way to a fruitful discussion and participatory learning.

The resource persons likewise presented case studies of contract farming in various countries, such as Brazil, which engaged the participants in a critical discourse and healthy debate among each other. After the first two days of lectures and in-house sessions, MI facilitated two field visits on the third day of the program. The participants, along with the resource persons and a number of MI staff, visited the Mitr Phol Sugar Company and a small swine farm performing contract farming with the Charoen Pokphand Group in Khon Kaen. The field speakers in each field sites encouraged the participants to ask and discuss about the actual application of contract farming, which reinforced the lessons taught in the lectures and further widened the participants’ understanding of contract farming in Thailand.

At the fourth and final day of the program, the participants were given an opportunity to have a hands-on experience of analyzing various contracts from around the world, and assess whether or not these contracts pass the FAO standards as discussed by the resource speakers. After presenting the results of their contract analyses, the participants were grouped into four and were asked to brainstorm about the challenges and opportunities for the promotion of buyer-farmer linkages through contract farming in Southeast Asia. Receiving a total weighted average of 4.53 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest) in the participants’ evaluation, the program was considered a success. One of the participants commended the overall quality of the presentations, citing that the lectures were “clear and concise; easy to digest and understand.”


Posthavest Management of Fresh Horticultural Produce

Posthavest Management of Fresh Horticultural Produce

Category: Agricultural Development & Commercialization, Completion Reports
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

The program had two parts: (1) practical training on postharvest management in a value chain setting and (2) presentation, evaluation and synthesis of results of the implementation of country action plans. A training package comprising of six modules with topical contents was developed by the resource person and improved by MI’s Rural Development for Sustainable Livelihoods Unit. 

The program was delivered using powerpoint presentations, discussions, hands on exercises on selected postharvest technologies and best practices, and field visits to GAP farm and its packhouse and market outlet as well as to a wholesale vegetable market. The training team distributed handouts and CD of ppt presentations, guide to and results of the practical activities, country presentations and pictorial documentation. Participants analyzed and presented the results and observations of the practical exercises and field visits to stimulate and sharpen their analytical skills on postharvest phenomena and commercial situations for future application in home country and work place. Overall, the training component improved participants’ knowledge.

The presentation and discussion of the country action plan results were similarly enriching. The Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar participants presented their results of the assessment of the handling practices and problems for fresh chili, leaf mustard and grapes, respectively, together with a poster which was evaluated by the participants themselves, MI staff and resource person, for improvement and subsequent translation to country languages prior to posting in strategic places in the country and possible conversion to leaflets for distribution to farmers and other stakeholders. On the other hand, the Vietnam participants shared the experiences and outcomes of the training programs conducted in the north (Hanoi) and south (Ho Chi Minh) of the country. 

Based on the analysis of the questionnaire evaluation and observation of MI facilitators, the objectives of the workshop were achieved. Participants have reflected on the learning experiences during action plan implementation. The participants were able to evaluate and synthesize the modular learning process, as well as to stimulate sharing and networking among them. They were satisfied with the program that they expressed certainty of recommending this program to others in their respective countries.


Post-Conflict Approaches towards Local Economic Development in Kayin State, Myanmar

Post-Conflict Approaches towards Local Economic Development in Kayin State, Myanmar

Category: RLED-EWEC Publications, Completion Reports
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong  Institute conducted a 5-day  training programme on  “Post-Conflict Approaches towards Local Economic Development in Kayin State, Myanmar” on August 28- September 1, 2015. Fifteen participants from different government agencies and private sector attended the training. The training aimed to strengthen the skills of the local economic development actors in Kayin State  which  are  necessary  to facilitate  economic  stimulation  in  the  area.

The  training  took place at Grand Hill Hotel, Hpa-an, Kayin State. Mr.Thuta Aung, the Trainer, Ms. Than Tha Aung, the program facilitator from Mekong Institute, Dr. Thet Thet Mar and Dr. Khin Myat Soe  from  RLED-EWEC  Myanmar  office,  contributed to  the  design  and  delivery  of  the program with their technical expertise. The  training  was  composed  of  five  modules.  Module  1  on  Investment  Promotion  aimed  to expose  the  participant  to  the  concepts  of  investment  promotion  and  by  examining  how  to effective  communicate  the  opportunities  to  potential  investor  to  bring  in  responsible investments  into  Kayin  State.  Module  2  on  “ASEAN  Economic  Community  and  National Export  Strategy”  was  to  familiarize  the  participants  with  contemporary  issues  surrounding AEC  at  the  regional  level  and  the  NES  at  the  country  level.  Module  3  on  “Private-Public- Partnership  and  Post  Conflict  Economic  Reconstruction”  provided  case  studies  of  other countries and creation hypothetical scenarios for Kayin State in the future. Module 4 explored the  role  of  government  in  stimulating  economic  development  encouraging  enterprises  and entrepreneurship. The  monitoring  and  evaluation  tools  employed  throughout  the  program  confirmed  that  the program’s objectives were achieved and the program was successful. Most of the participants were very satisfied with the program as shown in the total average rating by participants on the  overall  assessment  of  the  training  program.  

As  targeted  by  the  training,  this  training enabled  the  participants  to  produce  the  action  plans  that could  be  implemented  using  the knowledge attained from the training. As the success of the training will also be measured by the  extent  in  which  participants  are  able  to  implement  their  action  plans,  MI have  planned follow-up activities to provide technical support towards their action plan implementation


Sustainable Community Development

Sustainable Community Development

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) organized the one-month training course on “
Sustainable Community Development” under the financial support from Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand. Ten Cambodian central and provincial government officials from the Ministry of Rural Development participated in this training program, which was organized from June 29 to July 24, 2015, at the MI Residential Training Center in Khon Kaen Province, Thailand.

The course aimed to a) increase participants’ skills in community analysis; b) enhance participants’ knowledge of concepts and process of community development in Thailand; c) strengthen participants’ skills to facilitate local participation in rural community development; d) improve the participants’ knowledge and ability to plan for strategies and interventions to cope with the community issues in their work location; and e) advance the participants’ ability to employ monitoring  and evaluation concepts and tools to help improve the performance of community development strategies. 

Five interactive modules were conducted to cover the above objectives. The first module was about Concepts of Sustainable Community Development whichgave an overview of trends and interventions as well as problem and potential in different national and regional contexts. Next, the second module was the discussion on Sustainable Community Development: Diagnostic Processes and Tools. These enabled participants to use participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and stakeholder analysis in community development. In the third module, it was focused on Planning and Implementation Framework in Community Development. Planning technique, SWOT analysis, logical framework, monitoring, and evaluation were emphasized in the session. Afterward, the fourth module was explained about the Leadership in Community Development. Participants learned about the role of leader, people-centered development approach, and management in community development. In addition, the fieldwork was designed as the fifth module for the participatory rural appraisal (PRA) fieldwork which was conducted in Surin province where it gave opportunities for participants to learn about the real practice from the Thailand’s village development. In the final week, participants were brought to the indigo-cotton weaving group in Sakhon Nakhon province, and rice cracker group in Khon Kaen province to learn of some successful community-based enterprise (CBE) in Thailand.                 
Two resource persons, Dr. Suchint Simaraks , and Dr. Chamnan Wattanasiri , responsibled for delivering  lectures and facilitating the training program. Multi- learning methods, from theories as well as practices, were employed. Participatory was a core component; discussion were encouraged. The participants produced a planning and fieldwork report at the end of the course.   



Training Program on Research Methodology

Training Program on Research Methodology

Category: Completion Reports
Pages: 255
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) and the New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, launched the Mekong Institute – New Zealand Ambassador's Scholarship (MINZAS) Program for master degree students from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand (CLMT) in 2012. One of its foremost benefits is that besides the research grant the scholarship grantees received a training course on research methodology.

The training course on research methodology for the fourth batches of the MINZAS Program took place from March 9 to April 3, 2015 at the MI headquarters in Khon Kaen province of Thailand. In total, twelve CLMT scholarship recipients (five from Cambodia, one from Lao PDR, three from Myanmar and three from Thailand) attended the training course which drew on the expertise and experience of MI program staff and regional experts from Khon Kaen and Kasetsart Universities of Thailand. During the research methodology training course, the scholarship recipients observed four modules emphasizing the development of academically sound research proposals and new research techniques to assist in fieldwork research projects.

The results of the overall evaluation for the learning program, detailed herein, reveal that the participants were generally satisfied with the program content, resource personnel, recreational activities, training management and delivery. The sessions of the program were rated as "quite useful" by the participants, who indicated that the knowledge and skills acquired therein could (and would) be applied to their fieldwork research projects. Also, during the four-week intensive learning course, the participants developed new friendships and established region-wide networks. Fostering such connections promotes regional cooperation and stands as a consistent, indirect benefit of all training courses and programs. Though the participants were highly satisfied with the learning program, several comments were provided which will help to improve the program for the next MINZAS cohort. These comments expressed a need for more time on individual work on the research topics. The participants also felt they needed more focus on data analysis and interpretation, especially for qualitative research. The four-week training period was somewhat acceptable even though some of the participants felt the need for an even longer duration. However, the theory (technique) and practice should be better-balanced.


Sustainable Rural Development

Sustainable Rural Development

Category: Agricultural Development & Commercialization, Completion Reports
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

The Training Program on “Sustainable Rural Development” was held on 1-5 June 2015 at Mekong Institute (MI) Residential Training Center in Khon Kaen, Thailand, in collaboration with the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) and the International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD). Nineteen officials of Myanmar, Lao PDR and Thailand participated in the program. The training program aimed to enhance the participants’ professional capacity in sustainable rural development strategies and interventions.

The resource person Dr. Suchint Simaraks, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University, Thailand contributed to the design and delivery of the lectures in the program. The training program was composed of three interrelated modules. Module 1 on “Introduction to Sustainable Rural Development Concepts” provides an overview of concept of rural development and trends in rural development policies and interventions in current different context including national, regional and international levels. This module introduced the participants to the integrated and multi-sectoral approach to sustainable rural development which will emphasize the links between actors for development of the rural economy. This approach aims to use all available local economic synergies by strengthening production chains and linking with private sector and developing well-functioning markets.

Module 2 on “Issues Related to Sustainable Rural Development” highlighted different issues, challenges and opportunities related to sustainable rural development including inequity alleviation, good governance, environmental protection and regional cooperation, and risk management. Participants gained a better understanding on how to identify and compare the aforementioned issues, challenges and opportunities in their respective working areas.

Module 3 on “Sustainable Rural Development Interventions and Planning” provided an idea of a good example of rural development intervention which demonstrated success and created positive impacts in the livelihood of the community. During this module, a field visit has been made to a community with rural development and income-generating projects. The visit provided participants with firsthand information and exposed them to new ideas and experiences which may be applied in their work.

The training program is running in an interactive learning fashion. Brainstorming and discussion are carried out in most of the sessions. Concepts, principles and methodologies are explained through Powerpoint presentations to reinforce their learning. A field visit is arranged and discussed after in order to link room sessions to real world situations. Before the field visit, participants prepared an interview guide as a tool to collect information. The participants are divided into groups with different nationalities and mixed gender. After the field visit, participants are asked to discuss and present the lessons learned from the visit and indicate practices which can be applied upon their return.

Beside the contents of the program, top-ten world trends from World Economic Forum, Millennium Goals, world poverty distribution, resources limitation and other topics related to sustainable development are added. Causes of un-sustainability as reflected by inequity, urban-rural interrelationship, ecosystems, agro-ecosystems, urban systems interaction are discussed. Rural sustainability is integrated into the mentioned issues. Ideas for intervention are generated according to each country situation, in which the participants are tasked to prepare tentative action plan for learning and discussion, as well as monitoring and evaluation. The participatory action research is introduced and discussed. Towards the end, participants present their findings from the field visit and make some recommendations.

In conclusion, there are three main perspectives that the participants should assimilate: sustainable rural development that must be environmentally bearable, economically viable and socially equitable; network and network management; and functional relationship with outside organizations.

 


Successful Contract Farming Models in Thailand

Successful Contract Farming Models in Thailand

Category: Agricultural Development & Commercialization, Completion Reports
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) conducted a one-week Regional Workshop cum Structured Learning Visit (SLV) on “Successful Contract Farming Models in Thailand” on 18-23 May 2015. Twenty-eight government officials and private sector staff from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam participated in this SLV. 

This workshop cum SLV aimed to raise the awareness of participants to various CF arrangements and cross-border contract farming in the GMS sub-region and its importance in the socio-economic development of agricultural-based communities. The course was held at the MI Residential Training Facility in Khon Kaen Province with structured learning visits in Khon Kaen, Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom and Phetchaburi provinces of Thailand

Two Resource Persons, a) Dr. Pornsri Laurujisawat, Vice President of Charoen Pokphand Group and Visiting Lecturer at Kasetsart University, and 2) Mr. Chainchai Thongsumrit, Freelance Consultant, contributed to the design and delivery of the program with their technical expertise, knowledge, best practices and lessons learned on the principle of contract farming and models, and how to strengthen farmer organization by linking their products to market opportunity.

The workshop cum SLV was comprised of four interrelated modules. Module 1 “Introduction to the Concepts of Contract Farming” introduced participants to the existing concepts and various models of contract farming, and the benefits of contract farming as an instrument in linking smallholder farms to modern value chain.  Module 2 “Strengthening Farmer Organization in Market Accessibility” concentrated on the role, characteristics of farmer organization in linking smallholder farmers to the modern market, approaches of strengthening farmer organization and role of service providers to help smallholder farmer’s work with agribusiness companies. Module 3 on “Case Study of Smallholder Contracted Farmers in Linking to Modern Market from the Experience of Private Sector” equipped participants with some backgrounds on the contract farming arrangement implemented between smallholder farmers and private agribusiness companies in Thailand. Module 4 “Structured Learning Visit (SLV) to Contract Farming Companies and Contracted Farmers” provided opportunities for the participants to interact with contract faming companies, contracted farmers, and concerned government agencies who are directly involved in CF operations. Module 5 “Synthesis and Way Forward” allowed the participants to exchange understanding on certain issues and discuss how some of the knowledge gained can be applied in their own context.

The evaluations conducted throughout the course confirmed that the objectives were achieved and the SLV was successful. Most of the participants were very satisfied with the program as shown in the total average rating by participants on the overall assessment of the program. All participants appreciated the professionalism of the resource persons, organizing team, and supporting staff. 


Group Management and Strengthening Farmer Organizations

Group Management and Strengthening Farmer Organizations

Category: Completion Reports, RLED-EWEC Publications
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

Group Management and Strengthening Farmer Organization is considered as one of the major challenges for the agricultural development in Laos due to agricultural contribution to GDP is about 26-30% annually.At present, Lao PDRs has almost 3,630 farmer groups (FGs) with 1,864 of plantation and 1,776 of feeding groups, most of them are weak with few members, unstable and limited access to credit and market. Therefore, DAEC have the opportunity to coordinate with MI to conduct a TOT training in Khammouan province for both farmer leader and local government staff with the aim to increase their skills and experiences on necessary technics, government policy and management system for further strengthening of farmer organizations in local areas. The course program was conducted in 7 days from 10-16 March, 2015 including lectures and one-day field visit, group discussion and group action plan development. More than 14 topics have been covered and delivered to 25 participant whose came from PAFO and DAFO, Rice Mill Association and farmer groups. The field visit to successful farmer groups in Sakonnakhon, Thailand including cattle fattening group at Tayeam village and None Yangkham’s cooperatives helped participants learn about group management, production, quality and quantity control among members, value chain, access to credit and market for the sustainability of running group’s business. After the training program, most participants have improved their skills and knowledge as shown in the self-assessment result from 13% at the beginning of the course to 70% at the end. The final evaluation indicated that they can apply what they have learnt to  support and improve farmers’ activities in pilot project sites


Group Managment and Strengthening Farmer Organizations

Group Managment and Strengthening Farmer Organizations

Category: Completion Reports, RLED-EWEC Publications
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

This Training of Trainers (TOT) program aims to enhance the capacity of MI partners in pilot provincial sites to become effective capacity development providers and trainers to target local stakeholders, particularly farmers, SMEs, local economic development government officials and agribusiness development service providers. This TOT enables the participants: (i) To localize and deliver this specific training course to target local stakeholders so that jointly they can plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the performance of  farmer groups/organizations; and (ii) To acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes to become effective in their changing roles as facilitators, coordinators and service providers in the pilot project sites.

The training was conducted from 8 March to 14 March by Dr. Le Thi Hoa Sen, Senior Researcher and lecturer at the Faculty of Extension and Rural Development (FERD) and Msc. Nguyen Thien Tam, lecturer and Head of the Department of Rural Economy, FERD, Hue University, Vietnam. They both have extensive experience in conducting TOT and working with farmer organizations. Participants  were  key  informants  who  were  considered  as  resource  people  at  the provincial, district and commune level to enable the strengthening of farmer organizations at the project target area.

The   training   course   was   designed   with   5 modules:

Module 1: Understanding the TOT ProgramModule

2: Marketing planning for agricultural productsModule

3: Farmers’ awareness  on market,  market  access, farming contract  negotiation, production cost analysis, and estimating product’s priceModule

4: Group operation/management and sustaining farmer organizationsModule

5: Planning, monitoring, and evaluation of group operation

A half day field trip was conducted by visiting Huong Do farmer organization in Huong Phung commune, one of the most successful farmer organizations established by MI. The training was successfully organized. Although it lasted 7 days, all 18 participants  attended  from  beginning  to  the  end. They actively participated and contributed significantly to the training. The training evaluation demonstrated that all participants were happy with the training contents with approximately 56% of them indicating that the training contents were useful for their work, 37.5% indicated that they felt confident to apply what they learnt from the training into practice and 44% said they were able to apply the contents of the training into practice.