YOGYAKARTA, 31 October 2018 – ASEAN representatives exchanged insights and best practices on coconut value chain at the ASEAN Exchange Visit programme held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on 24-25 October.

With the theme “Strengthening the Role of Agricultural Cooperatives in the Coconut Value Chain Management and Job Creations in Rural Areas,” the exchange visit programme aimed to encourage farmer empowerment in ASEAN by promoting cross-sectoral collaboration among farmers, governments, private entities, financial institutions and academicians/universities. It was organised by the ASEAN Foundation through ASEAN Farmers’ Organisations Support Programme (AFOSP) in coordination with Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs of the Republic of Indonesia and ASEAN Centre for the Development of Agricultural Cooperative (ACEDAC).

The 2-day programme served as an avenue for more than 50 participants consisting of government officials, cooperative leaders, private sector representatives and academics from all ASEAN Member States to gain insights on the challenges and opportunities in coconut value chain, to share best practices on coconut processing and marketing as well as innovative coconut-based product development and to establish stronger network among the participants.

Through knowledge-rich panel discussions and site visits that were led by experts and resource persons from government and private sectors, the participants were encouraged to enhance their coconut productions as well as its processing, marketing opportunities and improving women participation along the coconut value chain. The programme also supported the implementation of Strategic Plan of Action for the ASEAN Cooperation in Agricultural Cooperative period 2016 – 2020.

“I learned about the situation on coconut value chain in Indonesia, key factors for success of business operation, how to develop business plan for coconut value chain, how to access finance, how to manage and lead cooperative and understand how government and other stakeholders support farmers in the coconut value chain,” said Nel Sophap, Chairman of Federation of Cambodian Farmer Organisation of Development, on the benefits of participating in the ASEAN Exchange Visit. “At the same time, I also had opportunity to discuss and exchange some aspects of coconut production and value chain in Cambodia as well.”

Destry Anna Sari of ACEDAC Board emphasised the importance of agricultural cooperatives and the potential of coconut commodity. “One of the key to create ASEAN as a production-based region is through strengthening the role of agricultural cooperatives. In this case, government engage and collaborate with farmers organization or association and private sector to build solid partnership that benefits farmers and cooperatives in ASEAN. Coconut was selected as the main commodity target, as it commonly found in ASEAN and it also has great potential to be processed into high value products, such as virgin coconut oil (VCO) and cocopeat,” said Destry. “We really hope that this programme could narrow the gap between government, farmers organisation, private sector, and especially agricultural cooperatives to seize this opportunity and to increase its participation in the global value chain,” Destry added.