Banking on the milestones of Thailand in implementing the “One Village One Product (OVOP)” and the potential of community and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Mekong Institute (MI), together with the AEM-METI Economic and Industrial Cooperation Committee (AMEICC), is implementing an eight-month project to support the OVOP ecosystem in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam (CLV). The Project Inception Workshop was virtually conducted on December 14, 2021.
“Community products have played an important role in the rural economies, and community development has been an integral part of regional cooperation and integration in the Mekong subregion,” said Mr. Suriyan Vitchitlekarn, Executive Director of Mekong Institute, during the opening program of the Inception Workshop. He also shared how the project on “Technical Assistance for Community Development” will support farmers and SMEs in increasing the value of agricultural produce and the income of people in the rural area. The project will educate and coach its beneficiaries on how to further improve the quality of the products, improve on packaging and branding, design and develop their products with a higher value added, and enhance market access through better marketing strategies.
Mr. Yuhei Wada, the Chief Representative of AMEICC in Thailand, mentioned in his opening remarks that “this project will contribute to the economic pillar of Mekong Industrial Development Vision 2.0 aiming at fostering micro, small and medium-enterprises (MSMEs) and narrowing the development gap between urban and rural areas through enhancing the capability of community enterprises and government officials to create value-added agriculture products.”
Attended by 21 government officials and members of the academe in CLV and Thailand, the Inception Workshop provided a platform for the participants to establish a network of professionals who will forward OVOP promotion and development in the region, intensifying the ‘South-South’ connections for future collaborations. The activity also presented how the project will replicate the success of Thailand in producing and marketing Processed Agricultural Products (PAPs). Priority products per country was also a part of the discussion, identifying possible SMEs and community enterprises who will become partners of the project.
With agriculture as the major economy of GMS countries, the project is expected to promote OVOP for a shift to more innovative ways of adding value to agricultural produce and mitigate the negative impacts of weather variability in the volume and value of agricultural products in CLV. Given the same physical geography and economy, the transfer of knowledge and technical assistance from Thailand to CLV envisions positive outcomes. A series of training and coaching sessions will be organized until June of 2022.