ASEAN and Farmers Organisations of MTCP2, first exchanges !

ASEAN Learning Route on Agricultural Cooperatives kicks off in Thailand 

IFAD is deepening his regional engagement with ASEAN. 
With the recent opening of the Asean Economic Community, second worldwide integrated regional market, a discussion has engaged between Farmers Oganisations and Government: How can smallfarmers benefit of this integration and their efforts sustained ? How legal framework and practices from Government can encourage local initiatives? Are the cooperative movement a solution for farmers to engage in market economy?

27 March 2016, Bangkok, Thailand — More than thirty delegates from farmer organizations, agricultural cooperatives and government cooperative authorities of eight ASEAN countries gathered in Kasetsart University Thailand for the start of the first ever ASEAN Learning Route on Agricultural Cooperatives, which has the theme “Strengthening the Role of Agricultural Cooperatives to Address the Challenges and Opportunities of the ASEAN Economic Community for the Benefit of the Smallholder Farmers.” #ALRAC #ASEANagricoops

Opening Program of the ASEAN Learning Route on Agricultural Cooperatives. Welcome remarks from ASWGAC, AF, AFA, LVC, PROCASUR, KU, CLT. Rural peoples are the main actors in development. The learning route provides space to showcase local innovations and learn directly from experiences on the ground. The context of the learning route was discussed - where agricultural cooperatives are critical both as a socio-economic movement and as an ideology for food security and agricultural develoment.

MTCP2 is a support program to Farmers Organisations in Asia Pacific covering 25 countries and supported by IFAD, Swiss Develo Cooperation and European Union. In Asean, Asean foundation, AFA and LA Via Campesina are leading the efforts of the national platforms. This learning route is co-organised with Procasur Asia.

Successful first day of the ASEAN Learning Route on Agri Coops, joined by IFAD CPM Benoit Thierry Govt, coops, farmers, academe and private companies exchange experiences and lessons learned in developing, supporting and working with agri coops. The learning route now goes to Chantanaburi to visit Kitchakut Cooperative.

One existing gap in agri coops in Thailand is that they merely collect and do not process products. The government is helping coops move up the value chain thru processing. Agri coops need to be knowledgeable about quality and standards from the production side. The marketing side is to process and link products for domestic and export markets. Dr Donsumran of Coop League of Thai: "We link different kinds coops & need to improve info about our members produce better."

Chuchart Insawang of Si Prachan Agri Coop: " For coops to really grow, you need to rely on no one else but yourselves". Arrut Navaraj of Sampran Riverside: "Fair trade business w/ organic farmers in district w/ highest use of pesticides in the past" . Peechai Dejkraisak of Siam Organics: Success as small biz thru value chain approach w/ small farmers
CPM Benoit Thierry: "IFAD is getting more involved in value chain for small farmers. The ASEAN learning route gives opportunity for ASEAN farmers and governments to cooperate. How can small farmers take the benefits from the ASEAN Economic Community? How to have more refined modalities to give preference to small farmers in market integration process?"

First Experience Fair on ASEAN Agricultural Cooperatives. Farmer/cooperative leaders and government cooperative counterparts discuss initiatives, challenges and opportunities, and learning objectives, expected improvements, among others, on the first day of the ASEAN Learning Route on Agricultural Cooperatives (27 March 2016, Bangkok, Thailand) 
Stay tuned! For the coming week, the learning route is now moving to south Thailand and soon after to Philippines to visit the cooperative movement.