The Mekong Institute (MI), with support from the AEM-METI Economic and Industrial Cooperation Committee (AMEICC) Secretariat, is supporting the One District One Product (ODOP) movement in Lao PDR by conducting an online training course on ODOP Development and Promotion for government officials and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country on March 14-18, 2022.
Being implemented in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam (CLV), the project was initiated based on the success of implementing the ‘One Village One Product’ (OVOP) project in Japan. Thailand has adapted this OVOP concept, which turned into One Tambon One Product (OTOP), and has been successful in promoting OTOP in the country. Through this training, MI aims to transfer knowledge and technical assistance from Thailand to CLV countries to hopefully replicate the benefits from Thailand’s success.
In her welcome remarks, Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, Director of MI’s Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department, shared the main objective of the training course, which is “to improve SMEs’ capacity to produce higher value-added products for the market with the hope of improving the rural areas through ODOP development.” She added that “the training course aims to make SMEs from Lao PDR more competitive in the market by improving their practices in food processing and applying appropriate technologies to maintain product quality and prolong the shelf-life of the processed products.”
She stressed that the inclusion of government officials in the training will ensure continuous government support in the initiative. Ms. Medialdia emphasized that the participants from the government are expected to widely disseminate the knowledge learned from the course and support SMEs in complying with ODOP requirements and in gaining access to wider markets.
Based on the Training Needs Assessment study conducted by MI, Lao PDR indicated its interest to promote processed banana products for ODOP. There are a number of small banana processors in Lao PDR producing sun-dried banana, fried banana chips, butter banana, banana candy, and chocolate-coated banana, among others. However, the products need a lot of improvement in terms of quality and safety to meet market requirements.
For 5 days, the 21 participants will learn OVOP concept, entrepreneurship skills, concept of demand-driven, food processing and packaging technologies, importance of food safety in increasing market access, and product branding and digital marketing.
The training will also provide an opportunity for participants to interact with Thai and Lao experts and address whatever challenges they are facing in ODOP development and promotion. Thai experts are from the Community Development Department of the Ministry of Interior, Food Innovation and Packaging Center of Chiang Mai University, Khon Kaen University Science Park, 5-Star OTOP Baan Sabaijai Community Enterprise, while the Lao expert is from the Food and Drug Department of the Ministry of Health.
This is the first training program organized under the 8-month project on ‘The Technical Assistance for Community Development in Mekong Subregion’. Supported by AMEICC Secretariat, the project aims to enhance the capability and potential of community enterprises and SMEs in CLV countries to create value-added of agricultural produce and strengthen the economy of the region.