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Under the framework of the regional project “Network for Agriculture and Rural Development Think-tanks for Countries in Mekong sub-region” (NARDT), funded by The International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD), the training course titled "Agricultural Value Chain Analysis" was conducted. The course aims to enhance cooperation, knowledge sharing, and capacity building among agricultural researchers and managers from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia (CLV). The key objective was to impart skills in agricultural value chain analysis with a focus on the Southeast Asian context.  Training applied used integrated systems thinking approach to agricultural and food value chain analysis.

The training attracted a diverse group of over 60 professionals, researchers and students, encompassing representatives from key government bodies, esteemed private organizations, and reputable research institutions, universities across Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. This rich mix of participants fostered a dynamic learning environment conducive to extensive knowledge exchange and network building. Leading the sessions were distinguished experts in value chain analysis. The team included Dr. Julius H. Kotir from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Associate Professor Dr. Ammar Abdul Aziz from the University of Queensland, Australia, Queensland, whose expertise in agricultural development has been widely acknowledged. The team was further strengthened with the presence of Dr. Yanti Nuraeni Muflikh from IPB University, Indonesia and Dr. Adhitya Marendra Kiloes from The National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Indonesia, both of whom brought invaluable insights from their extensive research experience. Their collective expertise provided a comprehensive and in-depth exploration of the subject matter, significantly enhancing the learning experience for all attendees.

This training course was conducted across two full days, spanning November 21st to 22nd, 2023, and was delivered through the Zoom platform. Importantly, emphasis was placed on adult learning methodologies and over the duration of the course we used a combination of presentations, analysis of case studies and class discussions of illustrative case studies, and breakout group discussions.  The content of the course was co-designed by the training team and staff from Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD), Vietnam. Key areas covered were:

Day 1

  • Introduction to Value Chain (VC) Analysis. 

  • Lesson and experiences from working in agri-food VC. 

  • Introduction to system thinking and associated concepts and tools, such as iceberg model and causal loop diagrams.

  • Case study presentation: System thinking as applied to seaweed CV in Indonesia.

Day 2

  • Practicing the application of systems thinking in agri-food VC analysis. 

  •  Framing the desired future agri-food VC system toward which your team is working.

  • Using the iceberg model as a system thinking tool to understand the underlying structures, patterns, and mental models that influence agri-food VC in VC in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

  • Introduction to causal loop diagram (CLDs) as a system mapping tool

  • Group activities focusing on the application of using the causal loop diagram (CLDs) to map and gain an understanding of agri-food VC in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

The feedback from participants was generally positive, with many valuing the course's practicality and direct relevance to their professional responsibilities. Several participants suggested a deeper exploration of advanced systems thinking tools in future iterations of the course. Overall, the training successfully achieved its objectives, with participants reporting a significantly enhanced understanding of applying systems thinking and value chain analysis in their respective roles. In particular, the training has actively assisted CLV's research teams to have appropriate methods and approaches in regional studies within the framework of the NARDT project in 2023. The majority of participants felt more confident in their ability to integrate these concepts into their operational and strategic frameworks, thereby augmenting efficiency and strategic planning within their organizations and it is hoped that there will be more advanced training based on the basic knowledge from this training.