Building up a Stronger Pulses Trader Association
On the 21st of November, ICCO Cooperation and and its partner Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) were present at the annual general meeting of the Myanmar Pulses, Beans, and Sesame Seed Merchants Association (MPBSSMA). The meeting was organized by DaNa Facility. An organizational capacity assessment of the association was presented.
One important strength of MPBSSMA is that the vision and mission of the organization is strongly endorsed by the members, and that many are committed to this vision. Another is that business management skills within the association were perceived as a key skill of the organization. However, a key threat is that there is quite a lot of focus of members on their own company and this limits the time invested in the association. Another is that there is currently weak interaction with farmers to solve and understand farmer perspectives.
The presentations of ICCO Cooperation and CESD focused on the experiences, lessons and information gathered in the work of both organizations supporting pulses value chains. Khin Zaw Tun, project manager of ICCO showed business leaders the importance of helping farmers to improve the quality and productivity of production through collaboration, information sharing and creating win-win mentalities. Nang Seng Pin, of the Centre for Social and Economic Development, shared her organizations’ work regarding monitoring of the Indian and Chinese markets for pulses. She particularly highlighted the need for accurate market information to be shared with stakeholders, and at the same time the importance of knowing the challenges of farmers by the private sector.
To strengthen MPBSSMA and make it ready for future challenges experts of the meeting recommend the association to work on:
- Building regional capacity and resources through collaborative workshops on information sharing
- Creating sustainable sources of income
- Seeking strategic partnerships and networking with funding from international organizations and business associations
- Developing projects
- Policy advocating activities
- Kickstart needs follow-up
The general meeting was productive, and a useful first step in helping the MBPSSMA to work towards becoming a stronger ‘Apex’ association for the sector. However, many steps are still needed: many of the members are still quite busy with managing their own companies, and have many other business endeavors in parallel. Key insights during the meeting related to the fact that some individual companies and executive committee members endorsed the stepping up of the association, and can potentially act as champions to give an example to others.