Think.COOP introduced nationally for Cambodian agriculture cooperatives

The national consultation workshop on Think.COOP was organized on the 7th and 8th of November 2018 in Phnom Penh, with participants from all of Cambodia’s 25 provinces and a municipality.

News | 22 November 2018
Launched in January 2018, Think.COOP is one of ILO’s latest training tools on cooperative development. It is intended to help participants understand how mutualism and cooperation can improve livelihoods opportunities. As a first step in understanding the cooperative model, Think.COOP is the initial module of the Our.COOP training package that uses a peer-to-peer, activity-based learning methodology.

Organized in cooperation between the ILO and the Department of Agricultural Cooperative Promotion, with the support of the ILO/Japan Fund for Building Social Safety Nets in Asia and the Pacific (SSN Fund), the workshop brought together 110 participants including H.E Dr. Ngin Chhay, Director-General of the Agriculture Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, government national and sub-national agriculture cooperative promoters, and representatives of NGOs working on agriculture cooperatives.

Participants of the Think.COOP training
The participants appreciated Think.COOP’s peer-to–peer, activity-based learning model, engaging in spirited discussions at each session. At the end of the workshop, the participants expressed the view that Think.COOP is not only applicable for farmers who wish to form an agriculture cooperative but also for those who are already members of newly-established cooperatives, as the programme helps participants better grasp the concepts and objectives of cooperatives, their importance and how they can address concerns through intensive peer discussion.

Participants of the Think.COOP training
The lead workshop facilitator, a trainer for two decades, highlighted how engaged participants were in the two days of the training, often engaging in heated discussions on the points covered. “In the previous training activities, the trainers like myself talked 90 per cent of the time and only 10 per cent was for participants to talk. We used slide presentations. However, Think.COOP is different; it has allowed participants to talk 90 per cent of the time and facilitators talked only 10 per cent,” said the facilitator.

The agriculture sector has played a key role in Cambodia’s socio-economic growth in the last two decades, contributing around 25 per cent of Cambodia's GDP and employing over 40 per cent of the total workforce in 2017. H.E Dr. Chhay mentioned the large number of agriculture cooperatives in the country (857) yet noted concern over their quality and effectiveness in supporting their members. He indicated that the inability to match the demand and supply of agricultural products in the markets has been a challenge. He also added that he is hoping that the ILO’s new cooperative development tools will help strengthen the management of agriculture cooperatives in Cambodia.

After the consultation workshop, national officers of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in cooperation with provincial departments of agriculture have planned to roll out Think.COOP learning sessions in five coastal and mountainous provinces in November 2018. The first provincial learning session was conducted on 12 November with 70 farmers in the coastal province of Kampot. At the end of the training session, a farmer said, “it’s a first time for me to engage like this. It’s very different from previous courses. It is a very good way for us, as we can talk to each other. It’s much better than slide presentations.” A facilitator said the farmers were very engaged, paid close attention to the instructions and in some parts, read the instructions three times to better understand the points being made and topics covered.

Four additional provincial roll outs will take place before the end of 2018.

Participants of the Think.COOP training