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A four-member team consisting of representatives from ICA-AP and the Institute for the Development of Agricultural Cooperation in Asia (IDACA), visited Thailand (February 14 and 15) to assess the impact of the ICA-MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), Government of Japan training course from 2016 to 2018.  The visit was to see how the Action Plans were being implemented by the participants.  The follow-up visit was conducted through a questionnaire, exchange of views and ideas with the participants and visits to some of the co-operatives where the participants were working. The ICA-AP was represented by Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director; and the IDACA team by Mr. Suzuki, General Manager; Mr. Takeshi Usui and Ms. Eiko Oshita, staff of Training Department. The Cooperative League of Thailand was represented by Mr. Phanuwat Wanraway from the International Department.

 

The team had in-depth discussions with three participants; Ms. Rumon Kongnoi from CLT who attended the 2013 Revitalization of Local Community by Rural Women; Ms. Phantira Siriyaman from Lam Lukka Agricultural Cooperative who attended the 2017 Food Value Chain training; and Ms. Prasetsri Mangkornsaksit from the Banphaeo Agricultural Cooperative who attended the 2016 Improving Capacity of Rural Women training.

 

While Ms. Siriyaman and Ms. Mangkornsaksit were able to implement their action plan; Ms. Kongnoi could not, as the support from the member cooperative was not forthcoming. However, she was able to use the skills learned during the training and apply it to the training courses she is coordinating.

 

Ms. Siriyaman explaining the  cooperative’s input supply program

 

Ms. Siriyaman’s action to pool rice from farmers and market it directly to consumers is underway. An assessment was done to identify the right variety of Jasmine rice which would be suitable to the area. 30 farmers were given training to grow ‘hompraphum’ variety of Jasmine rice; which will be harvested in the coming month and marketed through the Agriculture Cooperative Federation of Thailand (ACFT).  Phanintra, being the Assistant Manager and solely carrying out the project, had to secure the approval of the board to start the project and this took time posing challenges.

 

Ms. Mangkornsaksit with aloe vera juice bottles of her cooperative

 

Ms. Mangkornsaksit’s Action Plan to develop packaging and marketing of aloe vera drinks for the 50 women in the Tombon Kaset Pattan Women’s group in well under way. The plan was to see how value could be added to the aloe vera grown in the area and supplement the income of women. A survey to ascertain market demand showed that in addition to Thailand, markets existed in most of ASEAN (the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations), but more so in Malaysia. The demand in Malaysia is more for products that are halal certified and to obtain this, the women were trained in the process and systems put in place. In June 2018, the Cooperative Women Group obtained Halal Certificate from the Central Islamic Council of Thailand. This helped the group to sell the Aloe Vera drink to hospitals and schools in Malaysia. There is potential to expand the market and the cooperative, under the able leadership of Prasetsri, is trying to see how this can be done.