• Reginald Lee Manager

Strengthening Country Partnerships

SINGAPORE - In the first article of a three-part series on development of Country Partnerships, Jenny Costelloe, Director, Country Partnerships, examined areas of focus in the ‘Design’ phase. In this second article, I will explore elements of the ‘Strengthen’ phase and how these lay the groundwork for partnerships to evolve to the ‘Scale’ phase.

Country Partnerships Phase Two: Strengthen

The Myanmar Agricultural Network (MAN) and the Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture in Vietnam (PSAV) are two Country Partnerships successfully making the transition from the ‘Design’ to ‘Strengthen’ phase. Having assembled the relevant stakeholder groups during the design of the partnership, both have now established in-country secretariats to support the Working Groups. In fact, PSAV has recently hired a full-time Task Force Officer to provide ongoing support to value chain projects and MAN is in the process of doing so.

In this next ‘Strengthen’ phase, Working Groups need to define specific goals and action plans. In the case of MAN, three years after its inception, the partnership is now taking time to realign the Working Groups and revamp its strategy. Grow Asia supported the MAN Advisory Council in updating its charter to restore focus on smallholder farmers. A Working Group meeting was also held, where new partners and projects were identified. The experience with MAN underscores how building a multi-stakeholder partnership is a journey, where leaders and members continue to improve and refine their approach over time.

Country Partnerships must then implement the plans and establish data collection and performance measurement metrics to track progress of the collaboration models, build business cases to align resources, and engage local actors and experts. These milestones can then be leveraged to drive momentum.

In Vietnam, the Coffee Task Force has established over 100 demo plots in four provinces, developed three cooperatives, and delivered 20,000 training days between 2011 to 2016. These laudable achievements are paving the way for the Task Force to reach even more ambitious targets. Already, its training package on sustainable coffee farming has evolved into a draft National Sustainability Curriculum, while the government launched the Coffee Development Fund in 2015 to support the sector.

With projects now in place, how can Country Partnerships grow to reach more farmers and increase their contribution to Grow Asia’s goals of food security and economic growth? We will explore this challenge in our final article in the series as we delve into the ‘Scale’ phase.

Reginald Lee

Manager, Country Partnerships (Indonesia and Philippines), Grow Asia


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