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Members of the coffee growers’ co-operative

 

The participants attending the ICA-MAFF training course prepare an action-plan which is reviewed and approved for implementation. The Capacity Building project has a component of follow-up visits to two countries each year to meet the participants and get a picture of implementation, visit to co-operatives and discussions with stakeholders. The follow-up is important as it gives us a picture of how the participants have implemented their action plans and the issues encountered. The follow-up also provides us guidance for planning future year activities. This year the follow-up visits took place to India (brief report in March 2018 newsletter) and Lao PDR. The team comprising of Mr. Nakashima Toru, Manager, Training/Development Department, IDACA; Mr. Hiroshi Terunuma, Cooperative Development Advisor, IDACA, Ms. Hiroko Tayama, Program Coordinator, IDACA; and Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director ICA-AP visited Lao from February 18 to 23. During the visit, the team interviewed participants who attended from 2014-2017’ met with leaders from the Department of Rural Development and Co-operatives (DRDC; the former DAEC (Department of Agricultural Extension and Co-operatives) has split up to two new departments); and visited co-operatives in Vientiane (organic vegetables co-operatives) and Champasak (coffee producers co-operatives and cattle raising).

 

The enabling environment for co-operatives in Lao PDR is improving each year. Mr Khamouane Khamphoukeo, Director of DRDC said that the new structure will give impetus to promote agriculture in rural areas by integrating infrastructure, creating value chain and providing access to credit.  They are keen to move forward with Decree 136 and develop an agriculture co-operative law. While the decree has scope for agriculture and service co-operatives; the emphasis so far is on the former. Since decree 136 (in 2010), there have been further efforts to create farmers groups (Agreement 2984) and associations and co-operatives (Agreement 2983). As per the latest figures there are 582 groups and 20 co-operatives (micro-finance 7, coffee growers 7, and 2 agriculture) and associations (6). In addition, there are savings and credit unions which are overseen by the Bank of Lao PDR.

 

The participants for the most part have implemented their action plan. Some of the successful ones have been the linkage between co-operatives producing organic vegetables with markets in Vientiane; the formation of a new coffee producers co-operative under the aegis of the Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers Co-operative. The participants said the trainings were useful and they were able to share their experiences with the colleagues. The participants who were successful seem to have thought through their project well in terms of implementation, budget and support. Initiative taken on part of the participant was also an important factor.