Lao farmers to lead capacity building program

210120141329In a meeting held on January 22 at Laos Women’s Training Center, Vientianne, farmer organizations in Laos selected from among them the National Implementing Agency (NIA) and identified the composition of the National Steering committee (NSC) for the implementation of the Medium Term Cooperation Project  Phase 2 (MTCP2) in the country. The NIA, guided by the NSC, will anchor the implementation of MTCP2.

In behalf of the AFA/LVC consortium, which is the Sub-Regional Implementing Agency (SRIA) for Southeast Asia Plus China (SEA+China), Lany Rebagay of AFA cooperated with the Laos Extension for Agricultural Project (LEAP) in the conduct of the three-day “Farmer Consultation Workshop on Development and Networking of Farmers Organization.”

220120141338The workshop is a follow-up to two previous workshops supported by the Sub-Sector Working Group on Farmers and Agribusiness (SWGAB) in 2012 and 2013.

The workshop in August 2012 focused on general issues, while the workshop in June 2013 focused on commercial agriculture development.

The outputs of the two workshops were disseminated as the “Farmers Statement.”

In both workshops, the need for a farmers’ network/platform from different parts of the country for sharing lessons on market engagement, farmers’ learning and efficient operation of farmers’ organization and for identifying and solving their problems were raised.

The third workshop organized last January 20-22 was designed to follow through on the issues raised in Farmers Statement, elaborate the need, options and process of establishing a farmers’ platform, discuss the MTCP2 project, and select a NIA for Laos. It was attended by 17 farmers organizations  .

At the end of the three-day workshop, the FOs were able to establish an ad hoc leadership structure for the FO network and identify key thrusts for the next five years (2014-2018) come up with an action plan for 2014.

220120141348The elected leaders took turns in presenting their priorities to SWGAB, which is composed of government representatives, donors, international NGOs, academe as well as non-profit associations (NPAs).

SWGAB Co-Chairs Stefania Dina, IFAD Country Program Manager and Liliane Ortega, SDC Deputy Country Director reiterated their support to the new FO network and echoed the plea of the government representative chairing SWGAB for various stakeholders to provide concrete support.

During the SWGAB forum, Rebagay shared that the MTCP2 project will contribute to existing programs in that aim to strengthen FOs in Laos.

After the forum, the afternoon session was dedicated to a discussion of MTCP2.

Rebagay gave a brief orientation on MTCP2 including the roles of the NIA and he NSC.

She presented various models of NIAs and NSCs from other countries as possible references.

After the plenary discussion about MTCP2, a workshop was conducted to allow the new FO network to decide on the NIA and NSC.

After a very engaging and passionate discussion on the selection of the NSC and the NIA, the FOs agreed on the following set-up:

-The NSC will be composed of representatives from FOs (5 leaders recently selected by the FO network), government/Department of Agricultural Extension and Cooperative (DAEC), and NGOs (SAEDA and CDEA)

-The NIA will be the Agricultural Community Buying and Promotion Cooperative (ACBPC) represented by its Deputy President ,Mr. Thonevichit Naphayvanh

“We were pleasantly surprised when the FOs confidently said that while they may be very young to manage the project, they wanted the NIA to be an FO. They believe that the project will allow them to tap the expertise of partners to assist them in implementing the project activities. They were inspired by the set-up in other countries where the NIAs are also FOs,” Rebagay shared in an e-mail.

200120141322Parallel sessions among CSOs and government representative were also jointly organized by AFA and AsiaDHRRA on January 20 at Learning House, Vientiane.

The session was attended by NAFRI (the NIA for MTCP Phase 1), CDEA, SAEDA and AGPC.

The session was able to provide a venue for stakeholders to share their existing initiatives on rural development.

The sharing helped in identifying areas of complementation between the CSO programs and MTCP2.

Se related story: Farmers discuss agricultural productivity improvement (Vientane Times)