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Listing 43 publications.

Postharvest Practices: Experiences and Best Practices in New Zealand and Thailand

Postharvest Practices: Experiences and Best Practices in New Zealand and Thailand

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2013

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute was commissioned by the Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) to conduct a twelve-day training course on "Postharvest Practices: Experiences and Best Practices in New Zealand and Thailand" from 14-25 October 2013. Fifteen government officials from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the training program. The course objective is to increase the awareness of the participants on several ways to reduce losses in the production and marketing of agricultural products. The course was held at the MI Residential Training Facility in Khon Kaen with field visits on three sites, i.e., SWIFT Fruit and Vegetable Processing Company and Postharvest Technology Center (PHTC) in Nakhon Pathom Province, and Talaad Thai Wholesale Market in Pathumthani Province.

The training course was designed and delivered using modular training approach, of which, all participants went through three progressive stages: a) "Learn to do" – training on concepts, techniques and tools; b) "Do to learn" – participants are required to apply what they have learned in given exercises and group assignments with proper coaching from Resource Persons and facilitators; and c) "Share to learn" – participants had an opportunity to present their group works and share their learning experiences and lessons learned.
There are two sets of Resource Persons who contributed to the design and delivery of the lectures, workshops and structured learning visits, namely:

A. Lecture Resource Persons

  • Dr. Nigel Banks, Postharvest Expert of Postharvest. Co Limited, New Zealand
  • Assoc. Prof.Dr. Sungcom Techawongstien, Lecturer of Horticulture Division, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kean University, Thailand
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Manit Kosittrakun, Lecturer of Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University, Thailand

B. Field Visit Resource Persons

  • Mr. Setthapat Choobut, Assoc. Manager of Talaad Thai Wholesale Market, Thailand
  • Ms. Paphavee Suthavivat, Managing Director of SWIFT Fruit and Vegetable Processing Company, Thailand
  • Dr. Apita Bunsiri, Ph.D, Researcher of Postharvest Technology Center, Thailand

The training course was comprised of five interrelated modules. Module 1 on "A Better World through Postharvest Systems" introduced the participants to current levels of postharvest losses in different parts of the world. Module 2 on "Delivering Perfect Eating Experiences" delivered the knowledge on dimensions of quality in harvested fresh produce and ways in which quality can be managed to secure high performing batches of products. Module 3 on "Postharvest Physiology" introduced key physiological processes in harvested produce. Module 4 on "Postharvest Technologies" illustrated dimensions of postharvest technology. Module 5 on "Indigenous Postharvest Practices in Thailand" demonstrated best practices in postharvest handling employed by product handlers.

The evaluation conducted throughout the course confirmed that the objectives were achieved and the learning program was successful. Most of the participants were very satisfied with the program as shown in the total average rating by participants on the usefulness of the learning program at 4.27 and the overall assessment at 4.67. Using a scale of 1 to 5, this indicated that participants found the training program "very useful" and they were "very satisfied" with the program contents and overall training management.


Agriculture Sector Value Chain Analysis and Promotion

Agriculture Sector Value Chain Analysis and Promotion

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2013

Written by Mekong Institute

Under the Cooperation Agreement among Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ-MFAT) and the Mekong Institute (MI), the twelve-day training course on "Agriculture Sector Value Chain Analysis and Promotion" was conducted by MI from August 19 - 30, 2013. Twenty- three government officials and NGO staff from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attended the training course. The course aimed at developing the participants' professional capacity and broadening their horizon on the features, usefulness and benefits of the Value Chain Approach to local, national and regional economic development. The course was held at the MI Residential Training Facility in Khon Kaen with structured learning visits to rice and vegetable value chains in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

The training course was designed and delivered using the modular training approach, of which, all participants went through three progressive stages: a) "Learn to do" – training on concepts, techniques and tools; b) "Do to learn" – participants are required to apply what they have learned in their work assignment with proper coaching; and c) "Share to learn" – participants had an opportunity to present their group work outputs and share their learning experiences and lessons learned.

The Mekong Institute worked closely with the Resource Person from New Zealand in the design and delivery of the training program. The training program was designed into 2 parts. The theoretical part was handled mostly by Dr. Sandra Kathleen Martin, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Faculty of Commerce, Lincoln University, New Zealand and Assoc Prof. Nongluck Suphanchaimat, Department of Agriculture Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University. The practical part which exposed the participants to actual rice and vegetable value chain was facilitated by MI staff and Thai Resource Persons from the field visit sites.

The training course was comprised of five interrelated modules. Module 1: "Overview of Value Chain" introduced the participants to the definition, characteristics, core concepts, and the need to adopt the Value Chain Approach. The benefits and importance of the value chain analysis were also presented. Module 2: "Value Chain Promotion as an Approach to Pro-Poor Economic Development" deepened their knowledge on the background of value chain promotion. It illustrated the role of value chain analysis as a useful tool for promoting sustainable rural development and poverty reduction. Module 3: "Tools in Value Chain Analysis" translated the concepts of value chains into practice, particularly in the agriculture sector, by using different case studies in Thailand. Potential intervention areas, to increase competitiveness in each case study, were formulated as well as the sharing of best practices in agriculture value chain development in other countries. Module 4: "Role of the Public Sector in Promoting Value Chains in the Agriculture Sector" illustrated the elements of an enabling environment which include, inter alia, policy and regulation, infrastructure, and availability of essential financial and business development services needed by enterprises. Such an "enabling environment" needs to be tabled and developed at a multitude of levels, including the local levels where real enterprises physically locate and operate, as well as at the national level. Module 5: "Role, Significance and Trends of Cross-Border Agricultural Trade" discussed the state of cross-border trade in the GMS and identified the corresponding constraints and key successful factors in promoting agricultural trade in the region.

The evaluations conducted throughout the course confirmed that the objectives were achieved and that the learning program was successful. Most of the participants were very satisfied with the program as shown in the total average rating by participants on the usefulness of the learning program at "3.7" and the overall assessment at "4.27". Using a scale of 1 to 5, this indicated that the participants found the training program "useful" and were "very satisfied" with the program contents and overall training management.


Modern Farming Systems

Modern Farming Systems

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2013

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute was commissioned by New Zealand Aid Programme to conduct a four-week annual GMS Youth Camp on "Modern Farming Systems" from 1 to 27 July 2013 for 34 students and 4 teachers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV). The program aimed to establish knowledge and skills sharing networks among selected agriculture universities in CLMV countries. It also aimed to improve the knowledge and skills of regional cooperation and integration to support the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

Specifically, the Youth Camp aims to: (a) provide students of the CLMV countries with experiential learning opportunities in the whole supply chain; (b) promote modern farming systems for universities which can be adapted to the specific country's conditions and can be used for agricultural curriculum improvement and design of internship program; (c) provide the students opportunities to learn about new technologies, products, and know-how in agribusiness management; (d) and foster relationships and develop regional network among CLMV youths for enhanced regional cooperation, integration, and future collaboration.

There were four host companies contributed to the design and delivery of the practicum from 4 to 23 July 2013, namely: Betagro Group, Mitr Phol Group, SF Khon Kaen, and Swift Company.

The program was designed and delivered by using modular training approach where participants went through three progressive stages: a) "Learn to do" – the participants were provided knowledge on the basic concepts of modern farming systems via the introductory session at the MI Residential Training Center in Khon Kaen province as well as exposure to KKU's modern technology agriculture demonstration farm; b) "Do to learn" – Participants were provided practical learning experiences with their respective host companies related to poultry in Khon Kaen province, sugarcane in Chaiyaphum province and vegetable in Nakhon Pathom, Petchaboon and Rajchaburi provinces, with the company's supervisors; and c) "Share to learn" – participants got an opportunity to present their group works/findings and share their learning experiences and lessons learned during the reflection and way forward session from 26 to 27 July 2013. Additionally, they also shared their gained knowledge and experiences to other students and teachers at their respective universities upon their return.

The results of the evaluation showed that the Youth Camp on "Modern Farming Systems" was successful both in terms of program design and content, and overall organization and management. Students and teachers found that all knowledge and skills were useful to them. Mekong Institute staff, host company supervisors, and farm owners were very friendly and supportive during their stay.

However, there were some rooms for improvement. Language barrier remained the key challenge for their learning. Some of students have limited English skills to communicate effectively as well as some of the company staff and farmers. Hence, the recruitment process should be strengthened to ensure student's qualification especially on English and Thai language skills. Secondly, large number of students recommended to extend the period of internship from 3 weeks to 1 to 2 months.


Integrated Water Resources Management for Junior Riparian Professionals

Integrated Water Resources Management for Junior Riparian Professionals

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2013

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute conducted a ten-day learning program on "Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) for the Junior Riparian Professionals (JRPs)" for 12 JRPs from line agencies of National Mekong Committees of the four lower Mekong Countries one JRP from Myanmar, the dialogue member country and one newly recruited professional staff of MRC Navigation Programme. The program, which was carried out on 14 to 25 January 2013 aimed to provide the participants with knowledge and skills used in integrated water resources management in the context of Mekong cooperation and to learn some of the emerging issues and development initiatives in the Mekong basin.

The learning program was designed and delivered using modular training approach wherein all participants went through three progressive stages: a) "Learn to do" – where participants are provided with the knowledge and tools to apply in their work; b) "Do to learn" – where participants can apply what they have learned in their assignments with proper coaching from resource persons; and c) "Share to learn" – where participants are given an opportunity to present their group works/findings and to share their learning experiences and lessons learned. To enhance the learning experience, a field visit to 4-Ps Basin Pilot Project1 in Kratie Province, Cambodia was organized to provide the participants a first-hand opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from the program.

The learning program comprised seven interrelated modules, namely, 1) Introduction to IWRM, 2) Mekong Water and Peoples, 3) Enabling Environment: Institutional Roles and National Regulatory Framework, 4) Management Tools: IWRM Planning, 5) Management Tools: Meaningful Engagement of Stakeholders in IWRM, 6) Management Tools: Using Indicators to Measure Progress and Performance, and 7) Other Development Initiatives in the Mekong Basin.

The key resource person who contributed to the design and delivery of the lectures throughout the learning program is Dr. Suchat Katima, Director of the Mekong Institute. Prior to the field visit of 4-Ps Basin Pilot Project in Kratie province, the participants were given the background information of the project by HE Watt Botkosal, Deputy Secretary General and National Coordinator for Basin Development Plan (BDP) and Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project (M-IWRMP).

The evaluations conducted throughout the program confirmed that the learning program was successful in attaining the training objectives and in meeting participants' expectations. Most of the participants were satisfied with the program as shown in the average rating by participants on the attainment of objectives at 4.58 and the attainment of participants' expectations at 4.54. Using a scale of 1 to 5, this indicated that participants found both objectives of the learning program and participants' expectations were fully attained. Recommendations for training improvement include the following: to encourage the participation of China to participate the program to foster cooperation and greater collaboration among the countries in the Mekong basin, to allocate more time for practice in the field visits, to provide location map before commencing the field visit, to provide time to discuss with local people during the field
visits; and to provide translators during the field visits.


Structured Learning Visit on Farmer-led Community Enterprises

Structured Learning Visit on Farmer-led Community Enterprises

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2013

Written by Mekong Institute

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Mekong Institute (MI) agreed to collaborate on a specific project to develop partnership and promote cooperation between the two parties. Two five-day Structured Learning Visits on "Farmerled Community Enterprises" were conducted from December 19
to 23, 2012 and January 9 to 13, 2013 for 70 district officials and farmers from Puok, Sotnikhom, Varin, Banteay Srei, Angkor Chum, Kralanh Districts under Green Belt project. The Structured Learning Visit aimed to provide first hand information and xpose participating e farmers in how Thai smallholder farmers and local producers add value to their products.

Three MI facilitators were involved in organizing the program, translating, facilitating discussions, and sharing experiences with the participants. The participants visited five places namely; Sriviroj Farm Co., Ltd. and Sum Sung Safe and Chemical Free Vegetable Growers Group in Khon Kaen province, Thalad Sour Fish Group in Nong Bua Lumphu province, Ban Jod Women Livelihood Development Group in Roi-et province, and Surin Rice Fund Organic Agriculture Cooperatives Ltd. in Surin province. At the end of each Structured Learning Visit, the participants presented their reflections on what they have learned, which practices they can apply when they return and what are the difficulties that prevent them from applying the gained knowledge.

The results of the evaluations conducted throughout the program showed that both Structured Learning Visits were successful both in attaining the program objective and meeting participants' expectations. Most of the participants were satisfied with the program as shown in the average rating by participants on the overall satisfaction to the program at 4.89. Using a scale of 1 to 5, this indicated that participants were fully satisfied with the program in terms of program design and contents, as well as the overall organization and management of the program. However, there were some
suggestions for improvement such as including field visits to poultry and swine farms and extending the duration of the program to 7 days.

The participants also indicated that this Structured Learning Visit encouraged them as farmers to take active action for their livelihood and requested to organize again next year.


Structure Learning Visit on Farming Systems in Thailand

Structure Learning Visit on Farming Systems in Thailand

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2012

Written by Mekong Institute

The Northern Uplands Rice-Based Farming Systems Research Project (NURiFaR), and Mekong Institute (MI) agreed to collaborate on a specific project to develop partnership and promote cooperation between the two parties. A five-day Structured Learning Visit on Farming Systems in Thailand was conducted from January 24 to 28, 2012 for 19 Lao government officials of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR. The Structured Learning Visit aims to study Thailands Northeast Sufficiency Economy farming systems as well as the farming systems of rice, maize and peanut in Thailand.


Three MI facilitators were involved in organizing the program, facilitating discussions, and sharing experiences with the participants. The participants visited six places in Khon Kaen province and one place in Saraburi province, Thailand in order to enhance their understanding on the program contents and to apply the principles, processes, structures, and best practices learned during the entire visit. At the end of the Structured Learning Visit, the participants presented their reflections on the visit.


The results of the evaluation showed that the Structured Learning Visit was successful both in terms of program design and contents, as well as the overall organization and management. However, there were some suggestions for improvement on time management and quality of the bus.


The participants also indicated further training needs on: the principle of establishment of cooperatives and farmer groups, the process agricultural production including producing, processing and marketing, the indigenous knowledge from successful farmers, and the breeding techniques of rice and corn.


Workshop cum structureed Learning Visit on Agriculture Sector Value Chains and SME Export Consortia

Workshop cum structureed Learning Visit on Agriculture Sector Value Chains and SME Export Consortia

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2012

Written by Mekong Institute

Under the project on Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along East-West Economic Corridor, the Mekong Institute (MI) in collaboration with Japan ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) conducted a five-day Workshop cum Structured Learning Visit on Agriculture Sector Value Chains and SME Export Consortia from 26 to 30 March 2012. The workshop was held at Mekong Institute Residential Training Center, Khon Kaen City and the structured learning visits was arranged to study agriculture value chains in Nakhon Ratchasima and Export Consortia in Central Provinces of Thailand.


The training was attended by 25 participants comprising of executive members of CCIs, SME processors and business owners from Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The structured learning visit aims to encourage small scale agricultural production groups to add value to their products and connect the SMEs into Regional Value Chains through collaboration and business tie ups to form export consortiums.


Five MI facilitators were involved in organizing the program, facilitating discussions and sharing experiences with the participants. The participants visited Nakhon Ratchsima, Ayutthaya, Nakornpathom and Bangkok provinces in Thailand and interacted with potential investors and shared experiences to identify business prospects. At the end of the Structured Learning Visit, the participants presented their reflections on the visit.

To understand the effectiveness and challenges of the workshop, different evaluation methods were employed for assessment. The result of the evaluation shows that participants were highly satisfied with the program. They also regarded the resource persons as effective in helping them to understand the contents of the training.


From the result of the pre- and post-training self-evaluation, it is clear that there is significant improvement participants knowledge in agricultural value chain and SME cluster development. Therefore, the training is considered achieving its objectives the fact which is also proved by the result of workshop evaluation. (Please see evaluation part of the report for details).


The results of the evaluation showed that the workshop was successful both in terms of program design and contents and overall organization and management. According to the participants, such a program should be organized more frequently in the future.



Transboundary Water Conflict Management and Negotiation Skills  in the Mekong Context

Transboundary Water Conflict Management and Negotiation Skills in the Mekong Context

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2012

Written by Mekong Institute

Component 3 of the Flood Management and Mitigation Programme focuses on enhancing MRC Cooperation and capacity in facilitating and coordinating the process of addressing differences on transboundary issues in general and transboundary flood issues in particular based on the needs of individual parties. The overall objectives were awareness raising, knowledge and skills building on addressing differences and disputes, transboundary flood issues and strengthening cooperation.

The Capacity Building Programme has been implemented during the period 2009-2011, in which the Phase I organised training workshops and exchange study visits to GMS and Europe. Phase II organized training workshops and pilot study which aimed at applying knowledge and skills gained from the training workshops.


Following the completion of the Phase II, a test of Phase III has been initiated by enabling the National University/ Academic Institute of MRC member countries, with the assistance of the International Consultant from UNESCO-IHE to conduct a National Training Workshop for the representatives of NMCs and its relevant Line Agencies.


The evaluation results of this test will be used for a full-fledged Phase III design and implementation.


Regional Training Program on Improving Food Quality and Safety Through Good Agricultural and Posthavest Practices in Fresh Produce

Regional Training Program on Improving Food Quality and Safety Through Good Agricultural and Posthavest Practices in Fresh Produce

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2012

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute was commissioned by the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP) to conduct a ten-day training course on Improving Food Quality and Safety through Good Agricultural and Postharvest Practices in Fresh Produce from May 21 to June 1, 2012. Twenty-eight government officials, private sector staff and NGO from Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the training program. The course objective is to improve participants understanding of the importance of Good Agricultural (GAP) and Postharvest Practices in promoting product quality and safety of fruits, vegetables and meats. The course was held at the MI Residential Training Facility in Khon Kaen Province with four structured learning visits in Khon Kaen and Nakhon Pathom Provinces of Thailand

The training course was designed and delivered using modular training approach, of which, all participants went through three progressive stages: a) Learn to do training on concepts, techniques and tools; b) Do to learn participants are required to apply what they have learned in their work assignment with proper coaching from assigned advisors; and c) Share to learn participants will have an opportunity to present their group works/findings and share their learning experiences and lessons learned.

There were four resource persons who contributed to the design and delivery of the lectures in the training course, namely: a) Mrs. Bussara Chankaewmanee, Agriculture Senior Expert and b) Dr. Amara Chinaphuti, Senior Expert Agricultural Scientist (Post-harvest) from Post-Harvest & Products Processing Research & Development Office, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, c) Mr. Anut Visetrojana, SPS Expert, Acting Director of Standards Control Office (SCO), National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), and d) Dr. Rosa S. Rolle, Senior Agro-Industries and Post-Harvest Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The training course was comprised of four interrelated modules. Module 1 on Introduction to Product Quality and Safety illustrated that assurance of good quality and safety of agricultural products was a big challenge and could spell the difference in the countries ability to penetrate foreign markets and in gaining the trust and confidence of consumers. Module 2 on Good Agricultural Practices: Nature and Importance introduced the importance of GAP in ensuring product quality and food safety of agricultural produce. The principles of GAP and its components were discussed and participants shared about the status of GAP development and application in CLMV countries and learn from the experiences of Thailand. Module 3 on Postharvest Handling and Marketing of Fresh Produce introduced the participants to the importance of postharvest handling and management and gave an overview on the postharvest losses in developed and developing countries. The current postharvest technologies and milestones in postharvest loss reduction as well as the processing systems like Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) were also discussed. Module 4 on GAP Inspection, Certification and Accreditation described the importance of GAP certification and the associated procedures in establishing a national inspection and certification body.

Four structured learning visits were organized for the participants in this course; their understanding of the programs contents was enhanced through different appreciation visits and interaction with enterprises at Sum Sung Safety and Chemical Free Cooperatives and Betagro Company in Khon Kaen Province and SWIFT Company and Kasetsart University-Kamphengsean Campus in Nakhon Pathom Province of Thailand.

The evaluations conducted throughout the course confirmed that the objectives were achieved and the learning program was successful. Most of the participants were very satisfied with the program as shown in the total average rating by participants on the usefulness of the learning program at 4.42 and the overall assessment at 4.39. Using a scale of 1 to 5, this indicated that participants found the training program useful and were satisfied with the program contents and overall training management. All participants appreciated the professionalism of the resource persons, organizing team, and supporting staff. They committed to complete their action plans before the Synthesis and Evaluation Workshop which will be held on November 7-9, 2012.


Integrated Water Resources Management for the Mekong

Integrated Water Resources Management for the Mekong

Category: Completion Reports, Agricultural Development & Commercialization
Year: 2012

Written by Mekong Institute

First and foremost, we would like to express our gratitude to the participants from the MRCs member countries and dialogue partners China and Myanmar, who contributed to the success of IWRM-Batch 7 learning program.

We would also like to thank the MRC Guest Speakers: Mr. Gavin Edward Quibell, Dr. Vitoon Virayasakultorn, Mr. Ton Lennearts, Dr. Thim Ly, Mr. Chavalit Vidthayanon, Ms. Amphavanh Sisouvanh, and WREA Guest Speaker: Mr. Manfred Fisher for providing the technical knowledge, enthusiasm in teaching, and guidance throughout their sessions.

The cooperation and support of the project staff and all stakeholders of the Nam Ton Project are all deeply appreciated as well. They have shared their valuable time to enlighten us with their thoughts and experiences.

We also deeply thank Ms. Vu Thu Hong, ICBP Coordinator, and Ms. Le Thi Mai Huong, IWRM Programme Officer, ICBP-MRC, for their active participation in the design of this program and full support given to the MI team, including Ms. Soukouman Viravong, Administrative Assistant, ICBP-MRC for her great help and assistance.

And lastly, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Mekong River Commission for the financial support and for making the learning program possible