The Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) Department of the Mekong Institute (MI), in cooperation with the MI Regional and Local Economic Development – EWEC Project (RLED-EWEC) jointly conducted a "Structure Learning Visit (SLV) and Evaluation Workshop" from 18 – 20 February 2015 along the EWEC (Khammoune -Laos, Roi-et and MI). The activity aimed to reflect the knowledge and experience gained from the modular training program on "SME Cluster Development and Export Consortia for Rice Sector in Khammoune" from May 26 – 30, 2014; strengthen awareness and understanding of business management system, importance and processing of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), productivity, financing, HRD, technology and innovation; and identify activities as per the revised project result chain. This would help promote the rice value chain to integrate into the regional and global value chain. The activity was part of the multi-year project on "Capacity Development for Inclusive and Equitable Growth, GMS", supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
A total of seventeen participants from five districts of the Khammoune province in Laos attended the program representing rice millers, business owners, Department of Industry and Commerce and Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The participants paid a visit to Roi-et Rice Mill Cooperative Limited in Roi-et province of the North-eastern Thailand. Through the SLV, the participants gained knowledge on cooperative formation, business management system, product improvement, value -adding, packaging, labeling, market access and product export process, importance and process of GMP, differences of rice buying and selling between cooperatives and other enterprises, governmental support, financial management and access to funding.
On the last day of the evaluation workshop (20 Feb. 2015), the program participants recommended priority activities / programs for rice production farmers, rice millers, traders and relevant government agencies development in the Khammoune province for the continued support by MI and the SDC project in accordance with the results chain. The activities identified are i). improving rice market system through business management, marketing, market identification and linkages, business information and dissemination, standards and packaging, trade event promotion and structure learning visit (SLV) cum border trade event; ii). improving cross-border trade facilitation focusing on export procedures such as rules and regulations dissemination, ICT, interaction with custom officials, border site visits. Finally, Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta, Program Manager provided the way forward emphasizing on specific capacity development programs on market demand analyzing, identifying the right market, branding, export procedure, export promotion, Business Membership Organization (MBO) management and succession business planning to strengthen the rice business/sector in Khammoune.