A group of agri-startups, financial institutions, technical support agencies, government line departments, central banking system and other service providers gathered on November 9, 2021 for the first Mekong Institute (MI) - Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) webinar on “Promoting Agribusiness Startups: Experiences from the GMS”. Key actors in the startup ecosystem shared their insights experiences, innovations, policies and good practices to promote the development of agri-startup in the sub-region. The webinar was hosted by MI and APRACA to leverage the strategic importance of key players in this agri-startup field, especially in light of the recent emphasis to promote business startups to fulfill the aspirations of the people in the sub-region.
Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Executive Director of the Mekong Institute, underscored the importance of the agribusiness startups to help bridge the gaps between the farmers and value chain stakeholders in technology access and adoption and available agribusiness services. “This is particularly important as we are now working towards the implementation of sustainable agri-food systems, which was discussed and concluded by our leaders at the recently held UN food system summit in September this year”, Mr. Suriyan said. Access to affordable financing, technical support, infrastructure to support digital connectivity and supportive policy environment are key success factors to accelerate agribusiness startups in the region. “MI hopes that these kinds of collaborations would continue to expand to support our member countries, farmers, and stakeholder in agricultural system for sustainable development in the coming years”, he added.
Esteemed speakers included Mr. Heng Bomakara, Deputy Director General, National Bank of Cambodia, Dr. Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, Director of Financial Institutions Department, Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Preesan Rakwatin, Director of Digital Agriculture Development and Promotion, Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) in Thailand, Mr. Phan Vinh Quang, Former Deputy Project Director, Mekong Business Initiative, Asian Development Bank, Mr. Nam Dang, CEO of Cricket One, VN and Ms. Watcharin Witthayaweerasak, Innovation Alliance Advisor, CP All Group. The sessions were moderated by Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Executive Director, Mekong Institute, Dr. Prasun Kumar Das, Secretary General, APRACA and Dr. Bettina Prato, Senior Coordinator, Small Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Headquarters, Rome, Italy.
Mr. Devasis Padhi, Chief General Manager of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) closed the program on behalf of the Chairman of APRACA. In his closing remarks, he emphasized the importance of inclusive and multi-stakeholder collaboration and enabling policies to strengthen the agribusiness startup ecosystem.