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Learnings from the Grow Asia Country Partnership Secretariat Workshop

On 28 January – 1 February 2019, I had the privilege to again be part of the annual Grow Asia Secretariat Workshop that was held in Singapore. The annual learning workshop brought together secretariats from Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar as well as Grow Asia members to share progress and updates, exchange learnings and knowledge, and formulate strategies to better support respective partners and working groups.

The workshop started with a sharing session where each Country Partnerships was given the opportunity to share their progress, best practices, and challenges faced over the last year. This was followed by a series of evaluative and reflective activities to help us draw learnings from the experiences of each other – which I will keep in mind when developing Philippines Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (PPSA) quarterly plans, targets, and activities.

The Grow Asia Secretariat also provided us with practical lessons on stakeholder engagement, available toolkits on performance measurement, communications, and my personal favorite highlight of the workshop – the value proposition development exercise. We were tasked to reflect on our value proposition, work on our business development decks and pitch it to the team. Each Country Partnership then had to present their business development decks to a panel that would critique, ask questions, and suggest possible ways to improve. Although nerve wrecking, I found this learning experience very valuable as the immediate feedback and suggest gave me new insights and ideas on how I can improve.

If last year was a great opportunity for the five Country Partnership secretariats to get to know each other and the work that they are doing, this year, it was about cross pollination of learnings and experiences. The workshop also provided a safe space for us to solicit feedback, bounce off ideas, while being mentored by the Grow Asia Secretariat. As the Country Partnerships also differ in various aspects in terms of experience on certain areas – the membership base, maturity of the working groups and its projects, governance structure, etc., it was a great opportunity for us to consult with each other on what worked, what could have been done better, and what we can look forward to in the coming years.

Partnership for Indonesia’s Sustainable Agriculture (PISAgro) and Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture in Vietnam (PSAV) have inspired us to push ourselves to reach more smallholder farmers as their numbers continue to grow largely over the years and they were also able to bring in diversified funding sources to support their initiatives.

I am looking forward to Ratha Chan, Country Director for Cambodia Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (CPSA), on the initiatives that he will be working on this year. His optimism and enthusiasm to build on what Boreth Sun (CPSA’s former Country Director) started, reminded me of the great work that Butch Umengan, PPSA’s former Coordinator had done in the beginning.

Myanmar Agriculture Network (MAN) successful membership development is an inspiration to us to thrive and engage more partners towards collective impact.

The workshop was a valuable opportunity for us Country Secretariats as we were reminded of our common goal towards uplifting the lives of smallholder farmers and fisher folks in the region.

I am grateful to be part of an initiative that pushes us to do better and reminds us to look forward to doing more. I think the opportunity for us now is to translate all these learning from the workshop into tangible solutions that would help us create our own ripples of change to uplift the lives of many.


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