Mekong Institute (MI), with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), launched in March 2013 the first phase of a project entitled “Capacity Development for a More Inclusive and Equitable Growth, Greater Mekong Subregion, in line with the organization’s commitment to spur more inclusive and equitable growth in the subregion comprised of Cambodia, P.R. China (Yunnan Province and Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous region), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The project, which is also referred to as the Regional and Local Economic Development – East West Economic Corridor (RLED-EWEC) Project, aims to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers and the economic status of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in six twin provinces along the East West Economic Corridor of the Greater Mekong Subregion by making their products more competitive. This is being achieved by giving them better access to commercial agriculture value chains along EWEC (see the map below). Based on a number of assessments and studies, including agricultural commodities prioritizing assessments and value chain analyses, three agricultural value chains have been selected for the project pilot phase. They are the rice sector in Khammouane Province in Lao PDR, the maize sector in Kayin State in Myanmar and the coffee sector in Quang Tri Province in Vietnam.
In addition to focusing on three commodities and three different locations, as described below, the first phase of the project is involved in a number of capacity-building activities and supporting researches aimed at achieving its objective to help facilitate cross-border trade of agricultural commodities.
Moreover, there is an additional objective associated with the EWEC project, which pertains to the role and function of MI. Through its work in the project, the institute is integrating its on-the-ground project experiences into its capacity-development approach. As a result, it is hoped that MI will become a more effective regional capacity development organization that serves and is operated by GMS countries.