In A Learning Pressure Cooker: Myanmar Style
From 24-25 January 2019, seven organizations making up the Myanmar CEA, came together to do some serious learning and strategizing. Hosted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and facilitated by colleagues from the ICCO Netherlands office, the partners took two days to discuss the past year and to explore key opportunities for 2019.
What do you get when you put the Myanmar Civic Engagement Alliance members in a room together for two full days? Awkward silences? Hardly. Nervous glances toward the door? Not really. In-depth discussions and interactive exercises? Sure. Reflective analysis, strategic thinking, a bit of fun? Definitely!
From 24-25 January 2019, 7 organizations making up the Myanmar CEA came together to do some serious learning and strategizing. Graciously hosted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and facilitated by colleagues from the ICCO Netherlands office, the partners took two days to discuss the past year and to explore key opportunities for 2019.
During the workshop, it quickly became clear that a lot has happened when it comes to engaging in lobby and advocacy for more inclusive and sustainable agricultural value chains and responsible (agri)business practices. We found out that our way of approaching this complex topic makes sense, but that we also need to incorporate new strategies and adapt to key challenges in context to reach more impact and more focus.
Here are some snippets of happenings that our partners made happen last year:
- The first ever Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) group certification for mungbean farmers was granted by the Myanmar Department of Agriculture in Magway Region. Acknowledgement of the efforts of these farmers to improve quality and quantity of mungbeans will be a first, essential step to fully participate in the global marketplace.
- Key recommendations provided by rice and pulses farmers in Bago and Delta Region were collected and translated into a 6-point agenda for the Myanmar national government. One key advocacy point regarding a minimum price and a standard measurement for paddy rice was accepted by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This was realized in alignment with initiatives from all over the country, including the Myanmar Rice Federation, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), and Union-level key stakeholders.
- A national Pulses sector multi-stakeholder consultation workshop was held in Yangon, involving all the major players in the Myanmar pulses sector: this event highlighted the need for more frequent and strategic market information flows to deal with current and future Indian import restrictions.
- Relationships between farmer associations and key business partners were strengthened: this included facilitation of successful collective input-purchasing of fertilizers in Bago Region, and one new collective marketing contract for mungbean farmer associations in Yangon Region.
All in all: many success stories are coming up; however, more work needs to be done. In 2019, CEA will continue to adjust the way we work (with our Theory of Change), carefully monitor what we do and what we achieve, and strengthen the way we collaborate. The latter will be especially important, and it can be done by building on our programme achievements, stakeholder relations and on the complementary skills each of us brings. This will help to realize lasting institutional change: to realize the government's Agricultural Development Strategy, while highlighting the importance of inclusion, strengthened agricultural laws and policies, and more responsible practices of agricultural stakeholders.
For now, we remain committed to constructive dialogue furthering strong engagement of smallholder farmers, including women, youth and people with disabilities!