• Sun Boreth, Director

Practical Learning at The Grow Asia Country Partnership Secretariat Workshop

SINGAPORE – I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the three-day Grow Asia Country Partnership Secretariat Workshop, from 4-6 April 2018 in Singapore. The important annual learning event brought together the five Country Partnership Secretariats from Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam along with members of Grow Asia’s Singapore regional office to take stock of country level progresses, share updates, experiences and formulate strategies to better deliver support to our respective partners and working groups.

The workshop was a valuable opportunity to remind ourselves of Grow Asia’s ambition and how we are one network working towards common goals. Mr. Reginald Lee, Country Partnerships Manager for Indonesia and the Philippines, articulated the aims and objectives of the workshop and encouraged learning and sharing among the partnerships. Mr. Grahame Dixie, Grow Asia’s Executive Director, presented an overview of Grow Asia’s long-term strategy and plans to build professionalism at the country level to forge strong local partnerships, while facilitating cross-regional knowledge exchange and developing innovative solutions to help projects scale up. Ms. Tania Strauss from the World Economic Forum (“the Forum”) joined the event through a telephone conference, sharing an overview of the Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture and the important work that Grow Asia and the Country Partnerships do to promote sustainable agriculture, food security and good environmental practices.

On the first day of the workshop, each Country Partnership was invited to make a short presentation of its progress, governance structure, working groups, partner and government engagement efforts, challenges and solutions. I found these presentations to be very useful and inspiring, especially hearing how the well-established Partnership for Indonesia’s Sustainable Agriculture (PISAgro) mobilized membership to support the work of the Secretariat. At the same time, the Myanmar Agriculture Network (MAN) is a great success story as the partnership attracted more than 200 members in a short period. Listening to their stories instilled confidence in me and that CPSA can learn from their experiences and have similar successes in Cambodia.

The second day of the workshop was focused on developing practical and personal skills, including positive influencing, stakeholder engagement, measuring success, planning for working groups and effective communications. The knowledge is relevant to all of the country Secretariats in our daily work, and I found the presentation on communications to be practical and timely. An exercise on developing key messages was a good tool to help me craft simple but clear messages to communicate with our partners, donors and farmers.

We also developed plans for our upcoming Practitioners’ Workshops. As the CPSA will hold ours within the next few months, this session enabled me to think through appropriate learning topics and seek ideas from colleagues to help shape the workshop.

I personally found this Country Partnership Secretariat Workshop not only to be a great learning event, but a great team building exercise. The workshop combined the sharing of our individual stories from the fields, group discussions and debates and the exchanging of views and innovative ideas. It helped inject new energy into the Country Partnership Secretariats as we strive to build on our successes and plan to scale up.

I came away inspired with confidence that we can influence a culture change here in Cambodia, and can continue to forge an effective multi-stakeholder partnership platform which improves the agriculture sector and livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

For more information on the Cambodia Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (CPSA), contact Boreth at sboreth.cpsa@growasia.org.

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