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The ICA-AP NACF Joint workshop on Cooperative Systems was held in Seoul, Korea from September 24 to 27. Since 2002, this workshop has been held to help the development of agricultural cooperatives in the Asia Pacific region. This year, 19 delegates representing 11 organizations from Bhutan, China, India, Kiribati, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, participated in the workshop. Delegates from the Kiribati government were attending the workshop for the first time and as they saw it as an opportunity to learn about the functioning of agricultural cooperatives and the enabling environment for cooperatives in Korea.

 

Mr. Lee Gyeong-won,  General Manager of Future Management Research Institute of NACF, delivered the welcome address. This was followed by presentations about NACF and its two major business sectors: agribusiness and finance. In the afternoon, country reports were presented by four organizations who were first-time participants at the workshop. This was followed by two special lectures, one on the agricultural development in Korea and the role of agricultural cooperative and the other on the governance of agricultural cooperatives in Korea.

 

 

Participants on the first day of the Workshop.

 

 

On the second day, the participants went on a field visit. The first was to the Nonghyup Future Agriculture Support Center, which was opened to establish a platform to drive agriculture into the future growing industries. The strategy is to develop and promote the 4th industry in rural areas, which is, simply put, a combination of the 1st (growing and raising food resources), 2nd (processing) and 3rd (sales and other services) sectors to create value and ultimately to raise farmers income. The group then visited the Anseong Agricultural Product Distribution Center, which is the biggest agricultural logistics center in Korea. In addition to  distribution and storage functions, the facility  also offers packaging and processing services. Many member cooperatives have similar facilities, which are called APCs (Agricultural Product Processing Centers) but Anseong center distributes what APCs collect, on a nationwide scale.

 

A visit to the Gyeongbokgung palace

 

 

The group then visited Yangjae Hanaro Mart,  the biggest hypermarket in Korea. Hanaro Mart aims to secure a stable selling channel for agricultural products. It is just like other discount retailers but has one unique feature, it deals with domestic farm products only. This time the workshop coincided with the International Cooperative Agricultural Organization (ICAO) General Assembly (GA). On the third day, the delegates joined the GA and the Forum themed on sustainable agricultural development. The workshop concluded with a visit to Seoul city on the last day. The delegates had the opportunity to learn from the experience of NACF and hopefully the success story of NACF will greatly contribute to the development of cooperatives of each participating country.