Summary report of the first ASEAN-SEAFDEC Regional Technical Consultation on “one village, one fisheries product (FOVOP)”

Summary report of the first ASEAN-SEAFDEC Regional Technical Consultation on “one village, one fisheries product (fovoP)”

I. Introduction

1. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), at the invitation of the SEAFDEC Secretariat, convened the First ASEAN-SEAFDEC Regional Technical Consultation (RTC) on “One Village, One Fisheries Products (FOVOP)” from 24 to 27 March 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Consultation was organized as part of the activity under the project on the Promotion of “One Village, One Fisheries Products (FOVOP)” System to Improve the Livelihood for the Fisheries Communities in ASEAN Region with financial support from the ASEAN Foundation (Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund).

2. The Consultation was attended by delegates from the ASEAN and SEAFDEC Member Countries, namely: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Consultation was also attended by resource persons from the Oita OVOP International Exchange Promotion Committee, Japan; the Department of Community Development, Ministry of Interior, Thailand; the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand as well as from the Bangkok-based Ph.D. Programme of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; and representatives from the SEAFDEC Secretariat, TD, MFRD, AQD, and MFRDMD. The list of participants appears as Annex 1.

3. The Consultation was primarily aimed at exchanging experiences on the development and promotion of FOVOP based on the experiences in Japan (One Village, One Product: OVOP), Thailand (One Tambon, One Product: OTOP), and in other ASEAN countries, as well as gender and development issues in the ASEAN region as basis for the development of appropriate strategies and guidelines for the promotion of FOVOP. In addition, the Consultation was also organized to discuss and finalize the project activities, expected outputs, schedule of the activities, and responsibilities of the parties concerned as well as to identify the beneficiaries of FOVOP.

4. The Secretary-General of SEAFDEC, Dr. Siri Ekmaharaj welcomed the participants to the Consultation and declared the Consultation open. In his Opening Statement, he stressed on the importance of poverty alleviation in the region considering that poverty prevails in the region’s fishing communities, and that efforts should be made to minimize the deteriorating economic conditions of the fishers in order to achieve sustainable fisheries. In this regard, he exhorted the participants to consider promoting FOVOP as a means to address poverty issues in fishing communities. His Statement appears as Annex 2. The Meeting adopted the agenda and arrangements of the Consultation, which appears as Annex 3.


5. In order to address the major concerns in the promotion of FOVOP in the region, which include: 1) development of the small-scale fisheries; 2) mobilization of the rural community’s economy; and 3) promotion of good marketing management and potential micro-financing arrangements in rural fishing communities, the experience of Japan in promoting its “One Village, One Product (OVOP)” movement as well as those of Thailand and other ASEAN countries were referred to during the Regional Technical Consultation. In addition, an experience in promoting gender and development in the ASEAN region specifically focusing on the involvement of women’s groups in the economic activities in rural communities was also discussed in relation to the promotion of FOVOP.

A. Overview and Policy on “One Village, One Product” Movement in Japan

6. The Consultation took note of the experience of Japan in promoting the “One Village One Product” (OVOP) movement, which was presented by Mr. Tadashi Uchida, Special Advisor of the Oita OVOP International Exchange Promotion Committee, Japan. He explained that the OVOP movement has been successfully implemented in the Oita Prefecture of Japan since 1979 by its Governor, Mr. Morihiko Hiramatsu. The main objectives of the OVOP movement are: to provide motivation to rural potential people to activate the rural economy utilizing various inputs that are unique and available in the rural communities; and to mobilize the rural people particularly the women’s group to take leading role in the social and economic development aspects.

7. In his presentation, he referred to the historical background of the OVOP movement which specifically aimed to increase the income of the farmers, revitalize the rural area, and promote human resource development activities. With regards to fishery products, he cited that the product quality could be improved by processing, taking into account the unique characteristic of the local product from the community. He also clarified that for the successful promotion of any OVOP concept, the local knowledge, technology, and natural resources should be utilized with the support and initiatives from the government. His presentation appears as Annex 4.

B. Promotion of “One Tambol, One Product” (OTOP) in Thailand and promotion of micro-credit and marketing in rural communities

8. The concept of Thailand’s “One Tambol, One Product” (OTOP) was presented by Dr. Chamnan Wattanasiti from the Community Development Department, Ministry of Interior of Thailand. He reviewed the background of OTOP including its main objectives of creating employment, strengthening local wisdom, promoting HRD, and promoting the creativity of local communities. He emphasized that the characteristic of any OTOP product always reflects the local identity, i.e. the culture, ways of life, wisdom, etc.; the use of locally available materials; environmental and social aspects, and should represent the community’s identity. He explained that the achievement of Thailand’s OTOP program was due to various success factors that include social capital and local wisdom, government’s commitment (through mainstreaming of OTOP in the National Agenda) and focused government’s policy on grassroots economy, active people/community participation, agency integration – effective and sufficient, and competent government field workers. His presentation shows as Annex 5.

9. In the presentation of Thailand’s experience on the promotion of micro-credit and marketing in the rural communities, he highlighted on the differences between micro-finance, which is self-help while micro-credit involves outside help. In this connection, the Savings Group for Production Credit Promotion (SGPC) was established and implemented in Thailand as a development innovation to encourage people in local communities to help each other in terms of financial resources for occupational production and families’ urgent needs, and to instill ethics and thus develop the quality of life of the community members. He underlined the most important lessons learnt from the SGPC program which include the presence of strong leadership in communities in spite of the diverse activities, social services, etc. His presentation is shown as Annex 6.

C. Gender and development: involvement of women’s group in community economic activities

10. An experience on gender and development in fisheries communities and community-based economic activities was presented by Ms. Kyoko Kusakabe of the Asian Institute of Technology. The presentation placed an emphasis on major issues of women’s role in marginalization particularly in the economic aspects, women’s ability and capacity building in fisheries, and women’s role in economic development in fisheries communities. She also described many challenges that hinder women from performing actively in community fisheries economic development and the major issues that marginalize the women’s role, and that women perform their major role as house keeping managers without being hired and paid. Women are not also defined as heads of households despite their role in fish marketing and fish processing in order to earn additional household income.

11. Women’s role in fish processing and marketing as shown in many cases of women’s group handling and managing the OTOP fish food products in Thailand is a tangible proof and popular practice in Southeast Asian region. From such performance and role, the women have developed and gained skills in leadership and group solidarity, access to credit and other support as well as in income and employment generation. On the other hand, women still faced many challenges and threats to develop their group and business due to lack of skills in marketing and mobility, competition with other groups or private enterprises, etc. In order to address such challenges and issues, many activities like gender sensitivity in promoting community-based fish processing, management support, support for small group and quality management, and labeling support were proposed. Her detailed presentation is shown as Annex 7.

D. OVOP in Japan vs. OTOP in Thailand

12. A comparative study of OVOP in Japan and OTOP in Thailand was presented by Ms. Rika Fujioka of the Bangkok-based Ph.D. Programme of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her presentation included a general comparison of OVOP in Japan and OTOP in Thailand considering the similarities and differences in terms of policy framework, development path, local autonomy, policy orientation, support structure by any sectors, funding, etc.; and the elements of success of OVOP and OTOP in both countries to understand the approaches and strategies on the adoption of such movements in the region’s fisheries sector. Her presentation is shown as Annex 8.

E. OVOP movements in the ASEAN countries

13. The Consultation also noted that similar OVOP or OTOP movements have been carried out by many countries in the ASEAN region. The presentations of the representatives from the ASEAN countries are shown as Annexes 9-14. Specifically:

Cambodia, after considering OVOP as a national agenda, has continued to produce products that follow the OVOP approach. However, its efforts are constrained by lack of market strategy, inadequate technology for processing and packaging, insufficient research and extension services, lack of financial support, inadequate management skills, and absence of defined product standards.
Indonesia has been implementing the “Saka Sakti” or “One Regency One Product” movement since 2000 through regional clusters utilizing local competence. One of which is the aquaculture cluster where production of various economically important species is being promoted with small-scale aquaculture operated by groups while large-scale by cooperatives. The aquaculture cluster is however constrained by lack of quality seeds.
In Malaysia, OVOP movement has been carried out since 2001 by promoting seven kinds of products aiming at the international market, thus, its movement give more focus on improving product standards to comply with international safety requirements. The local fishers are faced with the problem of competition between their traditional fish products and those imported as the country relies heavily on imported fish and fishery products which could command lower prices that the local produce.
In Myanmar, a movement similar to OVOP is being carried out specifically in producing fishery products such as fresh snakehead and “belar” (Trichogaster pectoralis) and fish products such as fish sour, fish sauce, fish paste, dried and salted fish and shrimps. The movement is however constrained by lack of technology and inadequate marketing capability, although currently, its products are marketed by various entrepreneurs.
The Philippines started its “One Barangay One Product” movement since 1993 which has been changed to “One Town One Product” aimed primarily at promoting entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities for rural communities. The movement, which is being spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry under the Office of the President, involves mainly the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises). SULONG or the SME Unified Lending Opportunities for National Growth provides capital for the MSMEs under this movement (Sulong literally means advance or forward).
In Thailand, OTOP has been carried out successfully producing a variety of products. For fisheries, OTOP aims to improve the quality of fish and traditional fish products with the involvement of the SMEs.
Although Vietnam has still no legal framework with regards to OVOP or OTOP, the country has been producing specific products such as fish sauce and others through rural communities’ efforts. The Ministry of Fisheries and Rural Development of Vietnam has negotiated with the World Bank for possible funding of the country’s FOVOP activities.

F. Promotion of OVOP concept in Chonburi Province, Thailand

14. In order to learn more about OTOP movement in rural communities in Thailand, the Consultation participants visited Siracha and Bangsaray Municipalities in Chonburi Province. Siracha Municipality hosts the Integrated Coastal Management Project implemented by the Regional Program on Building Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) in order that the East Asian countries that have connecting territorial waters will maintain their culture and conserve natural resources for sustainable benefit.

15. With financial support from the government, state enterprises, private sector and people, and with technical assistance from PEMSEA, Siracha Municipality implemented its Coastal Strategy Implementation Plan, which includes among others the local-based fishery development project promoting the Crab Condominium, floating mussel farm, and culture of economically important fishes in floating cages. Ecotourism is an important activity in Siracha Municipality where the successful implementation of the local-based fishery development project is being promoted as a FOVOP type of movement.

16. In Bangsaray Municipality, their activities also included coastal resource and environmental management, where local participation is encouraged in the conservation and rehabilitation projects that include sea grass re-plantation for conserving dugong food, cleaning beach, coral reef plantation and training camp for youth, are among the important activities. The Municipality produces dried small squid, dried anchovies and fish sauce that are meant for the export market.

IIi. Promotion of FOVOP System for the Fisheries Communities in THE ASEAN Region

17. Based on the presentation made by SEAFDEC Secretariat on the project proposal including the detailed project activities, project objectives, expected outputs, and timeframe and schedule of the activities, the Consultation agreed in principle the project proposal (Annex 15) that have been approved by ASEAN Foundation.

18. The project is being initiated to improve fisheries livelihood through motivation of the potential people in the fisheries communities in ASEAN Member Countries through the introduction and promotion of “One Village, One Fisheries Product (FOVOP)” system.

19. The Consultation also took note that the project implementation will be conducted in parallel with the activities under new project ‘Human Resource Development (HRD) on Poverty Alleviation and Food Security by Fisheries Intervention in the ASEAN Region’, which is also supported by ASEAN Foundation. These projects will greatly contribute to poverty reduction and enhance fisheries community livelihood in ASEAN region.

20. In this regard, the Consultation agreed that more details and concrete clarification of the beneficiaries, prerequisite and preparatory work, evaluation and monitoring of results, and roles and responsibilities of parties concerned will be further developed by SEAFDEC in close consultation with the Member Countries and finalized during the First Regional HRD Workshop on Poverty Alleviation and Food Security by Fisheries Intervention in ASEAN region, tentatively scheduled in June 2008 and later confirmed at the Regional HRD Workshop on Identification of Potential and Problem Areas for the Promotion of FOVOP in the ASEAN Region which is tentatively scheduled in August 2008.

IV. STRATEGIES FOR THE Promotion of FOVOP System to Improve the Livelihood for the Fisheries Communities in ASEAN Region

21. FOVOP will be promoted as part of national fisheries policy to address poverty alleviation by providing alternative livelihood to local fisheries communities in order to achieve sustainable fisheries management and development. The proposed project activities promoting FOVOP will involve various stakeholders such as the government and private sectors, the NGOs, and the local communities and facilitate the promotion of networking among the concerned agencies.

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