Category Archives: Issue: Marketing

Capitalizing bitter bamboo group experience and improving marketing of bitter bamboo shoots (Lao Farmer Network)

Non-timber forest products such as bamboo shoots are a very important food and source of income for farmers in rural areas of Laos. Sustainable management of bamboo is important for food security, and improvement of the bamboo value chain can help increase incomes for rural people. That is why the Lao Farmer Network (LFN), a national farmer platform in the country, is highly interested in capitalizing the experiences of its member, the bitter bamboo group, in managing the forest and marketing their products.

Bitter bamboo is a unique type of bamboo that is available in a few areas in Laos such as Hoaphan and Oudomxay provinces. The shoots are harvested in December to March when they are still underground. Once the shoots have grown above the surface, they start to taste very bitter. So, farmers harvest the shoots while they are still small and underground.

lfn bitter bamboo 02

The bitter bamboo group of Nampheng village, Namor district, Oudomxay province has more than a decade of experience in collectively managing their resources as well as marketing bamboo shoots. Through sustainable practices, the forest area has been maintained and villagers are enjoying reliable harvest and incomes.

The group has very strict rules that allow villagers to harvest the shoots only from December to end of March, after which the group declares the close of the forest. The group also bans the use of hoe to avoid damage to the bamboo. Young trees are protected while older trees that are more than 3 years old are allowed to be cut.

In terms of marketing, all villagers have to sell the shoots to the group. The group has a contract with a buyer who gives money upfront. The members get their money right away from the group once the shoots have been delivered to the group. Regarding the trader selection, the group makes the decision based on offers from different buyers. For this year, a trader in the nearest town got the contract because he offers a higher price and also lives near the group.

lfn bitter bamboo 03

Regarding the price, the trader gives 5,500 Kip/Kg, the member receives 5,200 Kip/Kg, and the group keeps 300 Kip/Kg for the revolving fund. The fund is used for community work and for credit.

LFN is not only capitalizing this experience, but is actually now helping the group to access markets in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. The network will support the group to pilot the marketing of 1 ton of shoots to some markets in Vientiane. The price in Vientiane varies from 10,000-15,000 Kip/Kg, three times higher than what villagers are getting now. The process of this piloting will be documented, and the results will be shared in the next couple of months.

The capitalizing activity is funded by AsiaDHRRA while the piloting of the market in Vientiane is funded by LURAS, a Swiss-funded development program.

Lao Farmer Network (LFN) is a member of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA).

For more information, contact Phoutthasinh Phimachanh (

Training manuals on business and marketing for agriculture

Training manuals on business and marketing for agriculture

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

The CRS guides listed below explain how to help farmers strengthen five skill sets to successfully engage with markets. The documents are in their first year of beta testing.

The five skill sets are:

  1. organizing democratically for collective decision-making;
  2. managing savings and lending to protect key assets, smooth consumption and encourage investment;
  3. selecting, establishing and growing an enterprise;
  4. managing natural resources for sustainable agricultural production;
  5. and managing knowledge to innovate and maintain competitiveness in a changing market.

The guides were created through the support of 130 practitioners from 19 organizations and 12 countries. The manuals have been prepared for use by development facilitators, field extension agents and community leaders working with poor rural communities.

This manual describes the multiple-skills approach and how to use it in rural development projects. It is made up of six sections:
  1. Using a skills-based approach
  2. A closer look at the five skills
  3. Organizing the team
  4. Working with the community
  5. Ensuring sustainability
  6. Building a training plan
This manual describes the skills farmers need to successfully organize themselves in groups. It also explains how to manage a farmer group. The manual contains four sections:
  1. Working with groups
  2. Organizing and managing a group
  3. Planning and implementing activities
  4. Communicating and networking
This manual describes a robust methodology for establishing savings and lending communities. This guide is made up of five sections:
  1. Introduction to the Field Agent Guide
  2. Review of the SILC methodology
  3. SILC implementation manual
  4. Record keeping structure
  5. Field Agent Monitoring Forms
This manual describes the theory and concepts of natural resource management. The document contains 10 lessons and includes the following concepts:
  1. The importance of NRM
  2. The water cycle
  3. Watersheds and watershed management
  4. Soils and soil fertility
  5. Plant health
  6. Sustainable systems
This manual describes a process for designing and implementing an NRM plan. It includes seven lessons:
  1. Engaging the community
  2. Understanding the community context
  3. Identifying and engaging stakeholders
  4. Mapping natural resource problems and opportunities
  5. Making an NRM plan
  6. Managing an NRM project
  7. Monitoring progress
This manual describes the theory and concepts of marketing and agroenterprise development. The document contains 10 lessons:
  1. What is agricultural marketing?
  2. Supply and demand
  3. Costs, income, prices and profit
  4. Types of markets
  5. Changes in markets
  6. The value chain
  7. Developing marketing strategies
  8. The four Ps of marketing
  9. Entrepreneurial spirit
This manual describes a process for designing and implementing an agroenterprise business plan and assessing market performance. The document gives seven steps you can follow to help farmers develop their agroenterprises:
  1. Getting organized
  2. Identify products and organizing groups
  3. Collecting information for the business plan
  4. Building a business plan
  5. Marketing as a group
  6. Reviewing agroenterprise performance
  7. Scaling up
This manual takes you through the steps that a group of farmers undertake during a process of innovation. It includes the skills and knowledge you will need in order to lead a group of farmers through that process. The manual is made up of seven lessons:
  1. Introduction to innovations
  2. Identifying and understanding problems
  3. Exploring possible solutions
  4. Designing experiments
  5. Analyzing and evaluating the results
  6. Applying findings and sharing knowledge
Financial Education curriculum
This 11-lesson financial education curriculum has two main purposes:
  • To provide trainers with the tools to teach groups about financial management.
  • To help group members improve their financial and money management skills.
The curriculum is appropriate for development facilitators, field agents and SILC private service providers.

AFA holds study tour on organic marketing and renewable energy

Marketing of organic products where farmers get a bigger share of the value chain. Clean and renewable energy systems that are appropriate for rural communities. These are just some of the concerns of small scale women and men farmers in Asia.

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) arranged a study tour for its Cambodian member Farmer and Nature Net (FNN) and Laos partner Social & Economic Developers Association (SEDA-Laos) last March 2, 2011 in the Philippines in order to share some of the best practices of local NGOs and POs on these two important subjects.

Continue reading AFA holds study tour on organic marketing and renewable energy

In the News (South Korea): Farmers’ Market Gains Popularity Amid Surging Agricultural Prices

Prices of agricultural and fish products are skyrocketing due to the unprecedented harsh weather that has rattled the country the last few months.

And with a strong demand for raw produce ahead of Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving… the average price of fresh food hit a six-year high in August.

According to Statistics Korea, seafood prices increased 10.5 percent year-on-year, fresh fruit by 17.2 and vegetables by 24.7 percent.

Overall, the price of fresh food surged by 20 percent on average compared to the same period last year.

Read the full story at Arirang

In the News (Indonesia): Rattan export limitation harms local industry

(Export limit policies for non-food agricultural products need to be rationalized to ensure a better deal for local producers. Policies allowing only certain regions of the country to export certain agricultural products should be supported by infrastructure and support services as well to meet the production targets. — Admin)

Farmers and activists demand the government revise the 2009 Trade Ministry Regulation limiting rattan exports, arguing it could destroy the domestic rattan industry.

“The regulation has limited the country’s rattan exports,” Julius Hoesan from the Indonesian Rattan Businessmen Association (APRI) said in a dialog here on Wednesday.

The regulation allows annual exports of up to 35,000 tons of semi-finished rattan.

Julius said Indonesia’s rattan consumption was only 40,000 tons per year while its potential production of natural rattan could reach 696,000 tons annually.

“What are we going to do with the rest of the rattan produced? It causes rattan prices to decline.”

Read the full story at The Jakarta Post

In the News: Indonesia’s Farmers are Internationally Certified to Produce Organic Coffee

(Market information for Indonesian organic coffee. — Admin)

Indonesian Coffee is famous worldwide. Indonesia is currently the third largest producer of Coffee in the world following Brazil and Vietnam. The country also ranks fourth among green coffee exporters on the global market.

According to International Coffee Organization, in 2008 Indonesia produced 561,000 tones of green coffee accounting for approximately 9% of global output. Production is decreasing because of the slowing international demand. Indonesia’s domestic Coffee consumption reaches around 190,000 metric tons annually.

The planted area for Coffee is decreasing, especially in the Robusta growing regions. This is reportedly due to lower Coffee prices. Farmers are apparently shifting from Coffee to cocoa trees, which require less maintenance and have generally provided higher, more stable prices over the past five years. It’s been noted that more and more farmers in the Lampung area – traditionally a major Coffee production area – are converting from Coffee to cocoa production.

Read the full article at Market Publishers

In the News (Taiwan): Kaohsiung promotes agricultural produce online

Kaohsiung, June 10 (CNA) Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan is cooperating with an online shopping platform to help businesses promote local produce and food online, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said Thursday.

The city government said 25 local businesses selling fruit, sweet and snacks have set up online shops with help from the Kaohsiung office of Japan’s biggest online shopping platform, Rakuten. The businesses also enjoy good deals from the Internet platform in terms of online shop fees, according to the officials.

Read the full story at Focus Taiwan

In the News (Cambodia): Agro-industry hurt by lack of processing

A lack of domestic processing plants is preventing Cambodian agriculture exports from directly reaching end-market buyers and allowing its neighbours Thailand and Vietnam to reap the economic benefits of the Kingdom’s harvests, a senior Ministry of Commerce official told delegates at a two-day government-backed trade-facilitation workshop that opened Tuesday.

A dearth of processing plants means that Cambodia’s agricultural industry is neither recognised nor rewarded adequately for its produce, MoC Secretary of State Mao Thora said.

He pointed to Cambodia’s cashew nut and cassava industries, which are struggling because processing is done in Vietnam and Thailand before they are sold on to the end-market buyer.

He said Vietnam exported 16,000 tonnes of Cambodian cashew nuts last year, becoming one of the world’s top cashew nut suppliers, while Cambodia was not ranked at all.

Similarly, Cambodian cassava was taken to plants in Thailand and Vietnam, which then sold the produce to China for more than double the buying price.

Read the full story

In the News: Making durian a heavenly fruit for all Filipinos

“IT smells like hell, but tastes like heaven.”

That’s one way the durian fruit has been curiously described by some. But think about it: Does hell have any smell? And for that matter, does heaven have any taste?

For first-timers, the stink usually overpowers the fruit’s heavenly taste, making it difficult for ordinary gastronomists to ingest.

The durian’s smell has been a major setback in marketing the fruit among Luzon and Visayas consumers. But those who have been to Davao and tasted the fruit have overcome the stink, they now love to eat the fruit and look forward to another delightful durian-eating experience.

There is an art to eating durian. It entails gradually tasting the fruit, getting used to the smell and, eventually, becoming fond of it.

Read the full story at Business Mirror

In the News: Time for fair exchange in Cambodia

A centralised mercantile exchange, set to launch in July, will offer transparency and therefore equitable prices, says Shafeequr Rahman, CEO of the Cambodian Mercantile Exchange PLC

Many people do not understand how a commodities exchange works and what it does. Can you explain the exchange?
A commodities exchange is a central meeting place where buyers and sellers meet to do business.

The exchange provides an online trading facility where buying and selling takes place.

The exchange itself does not buy or sell commodities or contracts; nor does it set or establish prices, but it makes sure that a fair trade happens between its member buyers and sellers.

Read the full story at The Phnom Penh Post

In the News (Cambodia): Deal to sell local paddy to Vietnam

TAUCH Tepich Import Export signed an agreement this month to supply 10,000 tonnes of unprocessed paddy worth US$2.3 million to south Vietnam-based firm Tri Mai, said the president of the Cambodian company.

Tauch Tepich said Sunday that it would begin delivery this week.

According to the agreement, Tauch Tepich will supply 1,000 tonnes of paddy a month by water across the K’orm Samnor border crossing in Kandal province.

“We hope Cambodian farmers will get more market opportunities to sell their paddy under this agreement,” he said.

Agricultural analysts say the Kingdom should be taking advantage of rising processing power to add value to the sector rather than shipping raw materials to the likes of Vietnam – a major competitor in agricultural exports – where Cambodia-produced crops are usually processed and sold overseas.

“I think it is better if the company could export rice instead of paddy because it brings greater advantages for the economy,” said Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture.

Read the full story at The Phnom Pneh Post

In the News: Vietnamese rice needs an int’l brand name

VietNamNet Bridge – Although Vietnam is one of the three largest rice exporters in the world, its rice prices are lower than Thailand’s. Experts say Vietnamese rice has no brand name and its quality is inconsistent.

In the domestic market, branded rice on supermarket shelves is 20 percent more expensive than that offered at street kiosks. To increase rice prices, experts say Vietnam needs to build a brand name for its rice in line with international standards.

Richard Moore, a well-known brand expert, says producers need to pour more investment into marketing, packaging and trading services if they want to increase their rice prices. He cites Thailand as a role model in building a brand name for its rice. It tops the list of global rice exporters and its prices are higher than Vietnam’s.

Read the full story at Viet Nam Net Bridge

In the News (Vietnam): Exports rise, but tea half price

HA NOI — Viet Nam earned US$178 million from tea exports last year, a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

This represents an increase of 27.34 percentage points in volume and 21.3 percentage points in value over 2008.

Nguyen Kim Phong, chairman of the Viet Nam Tea Association, said in December alone, Viet Nam exported 11,000 tonnes of tea, an increase of 1,000 tonnes over November.

According to Phong, changing consumer preferences has helped the tea industry overcome challenges posed by the global recession.

Read the full story at Viet Nam News

In the News (Vietnam): Fruit farmer masters fine art of growing odd-shaped pomelos

HAU GIANG — Vietnamese people often offer their ancestors pomelos that are placed on their family’s altar during Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays, which in turn will hopefully bring happiness and luck during the new year.

Vo Trung Thanh from Phu Huu Commune, Chau Thanh District, has recently achieved fame by successfully growing pomelos that are shaped like gourds.

When asked about the secret of raising such strange-shaped pomelos, Thanh says they are all Nam Roi pomelo, which are one of the most popular fruits in Viet Nam.

“I’ve just simply changed their normal shapes into gourds,” he says.

Read the full story at Viet Nam News

AFA attends sustainable sourcing conference (Nov 30-Dec 1)

AFA attended the 3rd Summit in the Global Series on Sustainably Sourcing Agricultural Raw Materials organized by the London Business Conferences in IBIS Earls Court, London last November 30 to December 1, 2009. AFA was represented by PAKISAMA Vice President for Mindanao Michael Saguisihan who gave a presentation on the situation of coconut farmers in the Philippines, and AFA’s sustainable agriculture initiatives.

Click here for Mr. Saguisihan’s speech:

Click here for more information about the conference:

AFA holds regional consultations on food sovereignty, climate change, and marketing

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), a regional alliance of nine national farmers’ organizations, in eight countries in Asia, representing ten million farmers, held a consultation-workshop, entitled “Farmers’ Voices, Farmers’ Choices: AFA Regional Consultations on Food Sovereignty, Climate Change and Marketing”, last October 6-10, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand.

This consultation was part of AFA’s continuing efforts to deepen the understanding of small scale men and women farmers on regional and global events, especially their implications on small scale men and women farmers. It was held parallel to the UN Intersessional Meeting on Climate Change, also held in Bangkok last September 27-October 9, 2009.

There were two main AFA events:

1) On October 6-8, AFA conducted a regional consultation on “Asian Women Farmers’ Reclaiming Space for Food Sovereignty Amidst Climate Change”. Women farmer leaders came together to understand the Asian and global dynamics of the climate change negotiations, to share their initiatives in ensuring food security and in responding to the effects of climate change.

2) On October 9-10, AFA conducted the “Regional Knowledge Sharing on AFA Members’ Marketing Initiatives: Basics in Engaging the Market”. This knowledge sharing gave the participants additional knowledge and insights on how to develop/improve their marketing strategies of identified focus crops. During the workshop, a framework for commodity based organizing was formulated to guide farmers’ groups in forming commodity-based groups.

The event was hosted by SorKorPor, with the support of Agriterra.

Click here for the overall program:

Click here for the women’s consultation workshop program:

Click here for the marketing consultation workshop program: