CONNECTING DOTS ALONG THE POLICY INNOVATION JOURNEY FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS IN SOUTHERN THAILAND
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As an upper-middle-income country, Thailand has advanced far beyond having many of the more basic development challenges affecting other nations. However, several challenges remain. COVID-19 pandemic revealed weaknesses of some public policies and services delivery. It shows that the traditional approach for designing and formulation policy and delivering public services lacks agility and how both efficiency and effectiveness need to be further improved to tackle such challenges.
To address complex development challenges in Thailand, Thailand Policy Lab; established under a partnership of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Royal Thai Government through the Office of National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) seeks to identify paradigm shifts emerging from the current response of the Royal Thai Government to current challenges. It will ask which new models of governance can enable better preparedness for future crises and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in Thailand and identify interventions that are grounded in system thinking and can accelerate the transition from short-term to long-term policy and planning. Recognizing the importance of facilitating the use of innovative tools, processes, and technologies in policymaking as well as enhancing the understanding of policymakers amongst the central and regional areas, in 2022 Thailand Policy Lab aims to organize ‘Policy Innovation Journey’ in 3 regions in Thailand: South, North-East and East/Central.
In the South, going beyond traditional community participation and consultation mechanisms, UNDP in collaboration with Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies since 2020 have been facilitating an active listening process in the southern border provinces to gather narratives through (digital) deep listening exercises with a diverse set of key stakeholders including artists, activists, civil society, academics, youth, farmers, fisher folks, government and companies to define both area’s real needs and opportunities. It is statistically apparent that the region’s development is regressing in all dimensions including poverty, health, education, and inequalities; however, the active listening process with local stakeholders has identified food and agricultural sector as both significant barriers and windows of opportunities to accelerate the progress in livelihood, poverty and inequality reduction, and social cohesion in the region.
Shifting from single-point solutions and linear projects to an open innovation platform (variety of actors, methodologies, and interconnected actions) that is holistically framed by the principle of SDGs integration, UNDP strategically is promoting integrated solutions to local food systems challenges through a portfolio approach and social innovation platform in the southern border provinces. Exploring and experimenting multiple solutions by engaging with multi-stakeholders over the past year, it is important to take stock of lessons learned and rethink how social innovation platform approach can be scaled up linking to the subnational governance and national policies related to food systems. Hence, Thailand Policy Lab, NESDC, and UNDP will organize three-day workshops to foster the interconnection of subnational intervention, learning, and capacity to national policy dialogue and formulation.
- Develop systems understanding of local policy and planning practices related to food systems at subnational level
- Synthesize experiences and views on innovative process and subnational governance of food systems
- Simulate the scenarios for changes by learning innovative tools (Listening, Platforms, Sense-making, Co-creation, SDG integration)
- Establish a community of innovators and SDG Champions
- Identify capacity development strategy for local practitioners
Main idea and process
“WHY: Introduction of the project’s main objectives
The project aims to develop an open innovation platform from the community to the local level, and to synthesize local innovations in food systems through a co-creation process. It is expected that everyone can become part of the network to draw on new potentials in the area. The expected outcome is a policy proposal documentation, a joint action plan and creative ideas leading to the development of project proposals, potential development strategy and the community of innovators.
Opening Remark UN Representative Renaud Meyer has welcomed and emphasized that this is a significant event through a hands-on training workshop in collaboration between the UNDP and local governments and the NESDC as the main partner in Thailand Policy Lab, which aims to: Find local problems and solutions. From the experiences of traveling to meet various sectors in several provinces of the country, Renaud noted that around 90% found that the solutions have to derive from the locals, not just from the central area in Bangkok. Because there are several occurrences that the rules or policies that come from Bangkok does not correspond to the local context in the area. Therefore, in order to generate the solutions that meet the pain points, UNDP and NESDC must open the space for conversation to propel change, to improve public service, to put emphasis on the development with a focus on connecting locals to the national and global levels. In this three-day meeting, thus, we want you to express about what you have, what you know in order to learn in this classroom. Because this classroom will no longer be a one – way class just for listening, but rather a space to exchange without the fear of being at fault.
WHO: Stakeholder mapping activity in the agricultural and local food sectors
It consists of 5 steps of brainstorming:
- Where are we in the stakeholder mapping? Paste the post-it in the circle of indirect involvement (It is an external environment such as Academic agencies, government agencies, village headmen who support the village’s nutrition) or direct involvement.
- Where are our other friends involved? Paste it in the map. Identify relationships across areas.
- Draw the relationship lines and identify the relationship in the System map (solid line = existing relationship) (dotted line = relationship required to expand)
- If we were to expand the portfolio such as exporting products, who do we have to build a relationship with?
- Identify who are the main players that can make a change in the food system. Vote by using stickers)
The provinces are divided into 4 subgroups: Songkhla, Pattani, and Yala, Narathiwat.
- The main actors in Songkhla province are the producers, with the spatial actor as the farmer’s unit, including the new and old generation, as well as the processing sector. The connecting group is SME while the outer circle is the supporting government agencies such as the Provincial agriculture office. On the other hand, the partnership that should be present but is still lacking is the relationship with Ministry of Digital Economy and Society that operates on the database. This is followed by the source of funding. As for NESDC, there should be the integration on the development plans at the national and local levels, especially the progress in the grassroot economic development. The voting results show that the main actors are farmers and NESDC.
- For Pattani province, the main actors are producers of local fishery, Sustainable Agriculture Confederation, One Tambon One New Theory Agriculture Group, sustainable agriculture groups, midstream enterprises. Recommend actions are support for all upstream, midstream, and downstream (processing-downstream). Academic institutions that work with agriculture groups have been involved for development. Outside circle comprises The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC)/ Ministry of Interior/ Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives/ National Economics and Social Development Council/ UN/ Save the Children/ IFRC.
- For Yala province, the main actors are producers. 3 direct factors include livestock, agriculture, and companies. Provincial Commercial, and The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) have to be connected with Excise Department for operating projects.
- For Narathiwat province, the main actors are The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC), producers-livestock and local community. Related academic units of the standards of Department of Industrial Works must be recognized as to distribute goods to consumers.
Moreover, there must be connection with SOS Foundation which focuses on ZeroWaste.
After the brainstorm about the stakeholder map regarding relationship of the food system, it shows value chain from sources of production – mechanisms to reach consumers – marketing guidelines – value added – various sources of local capital from mountainous area to coastal area that need support. Thus, worth and value of resources must be acknowledged, while the local rights must not be violated by commercial value in terms of policy response. Pain points of all provinces are marketing and sustainability. This association must coordinate and formulate big data. OEM data must be supplemented production planning which leads to consideration and certification through the same database that Thailand Science Park and SME support. BCG concept has to be complied to prevent “big fish eat little fish”. The South will therefore move towards the strategic sustainable development. Another pain point is continuity of operations due to non-approval projects. Farmers under the upstream could not complete the whole operations from this issue.
WHAT: Presenting activities and projects of agencies and organizations, creating understanding of impacts of activities and projects related to the agriculture sector and various local foods
Solution mapping is a tool to identify innovative solutions. This activity requires participants to evaluate their operations under 5 levels of systemic impacts including 1) local level, 2) SME level, 3) large level, 4) public service, and 5) governance. The levels 1 – 3 will not occur, if the services 3 – 5 do not facilitate the system. In this activity, representatives from each agency have to sit together and fill in information in the template.
- ความมั่นคงทางอาหารชุมชนและพันธุ์พืชท้องถิ่น สมาคมส่งเสริมสิทธิชุมชน
- ฟื้นฟูนาร้างด้วยเกษตรอินทรีย์แบบยั่งยืน โรงเรียนชาวนา อำเภอแว้ง
- ปรับปรุงตลาดรถไฟและตลาดพิมลชัย เทศบาลนครยะลา
- ส่งเสริมมาตรฐานผลิตภัณฑ์ข้าวพื้นถิ่น พัฒนาชุมชนจังหวัดยะลาและปัตตานี
- iGreensmile เครือข่ายเกษตรสุขภาพสงขลา
- การแปรรูปปลาส้ม วิสาหกิจชุมชนเยาวชนตาดีกากรือซอ
- สสส. การบูรณาการความร่วมมือของภาคียุทธศาสตร์ระดับจังหวัด
- การกำจัดขยะอินทรีย์ด้วยหนอนแมลงวันลาย บ. ยะลาฟูดส์ จก.
- SOS Cloudfoodbank platform
- อาหารพื้นบ้าน วิธีแห่งความเชื่อ ภูมิปัญญา และบทบาทของผู้หญิงในการมีส่วนร่วม เพื่อสืบสานมรดกทางวัฒนธรรม
- ยกระดับจังหวัดชายแดนใต้สู่เมืองปศุสัตว์ฮาลาล ศอ.บต.
- เครือข่ายเกษตรรุ่นใหม่ Young Smart Farmer
HOW: Connecting the Horizontal Dots – Gathering solutions and innovations from the government, the society and the private sector that drive local food system and agriculture in the southern border provinces as well as connecting horizontal dots
After representatives from each agency filled in their information, Phen, Ph.D., presented connection of the 5 Action Tracks. For 5 Action Tracks that the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 meeting has specified, the participants consider track that their tasks are related as to link with development target. From the brainstorm session in the morning, many groups find that their stakeholder mapping cannot reach downstream, i.e., consumers and nutrition status for good living. In the afternoon, the participants consider 5 Action Tracks of food system as to specify in their own operations. Details are as follows.
- Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all (enabling all people to be nourished and healthy, progressive realization of the right to food)
- Shifting to sustainable consumption patterns (promoting and creating demand for healthy and sustainable diets, reducing waste)
- Boosting nature-positive production at sufficient scale (acting on climate change, reducing emissions and increasing carbon capture, regenerating and protecting critical ecosystems, and reducing food loss and energy usage, without undermining health or nutritious diets)
- Advancing equitable livelihoods and value distribution (raising incomes, distributing risk, expanding inclusion, promote full and productive employment and decent work for all)
- Building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stress (ensuring the continued functionality of healthy and sustainable food systems)
After specifying operations under upstream, midstream, downstream, whole system and supporting system, the data processing shows that most participants have upstream operations, while midstream operations are mainly about processing and distribution. Downstream operations are healthy market fair and fresh market standards. Whole system projects are Desolate Field of Na Dee project, Yala Node Flagship project of Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and sufficiency economy projects.
IDEATION – Brainstorm to create new idea
Next, participants in each group brainstorms/votes to prioritize pain point of food system to be solved. The result shows that three groups agree that upstream operations have issues about quality of soil, water, fertilizer, pest, harvesting and seeds from manufacturers. The issues cause lack of quality products and non-compliance with standards. Thus, fund is needed to improve processing. Moreover, details of production and comprehensive production management must be reconsidered, especially good planning and management of demand – supply.
The other three groups state that downstream operations and supporting system have issue about no buyers of products. Consumers might not understand products due to lack of analysis of markets, target groups, value added of products, funds, innovations, and technologies. Moreover, sale has not been promoted, consumers do not know producers, and Local Administrative Organizations have not been supported. All these factors cause low price since farmers cannot set the price. Producers are supposed to be the one who do pricing
According to the issues specified in the previous activity, all groups have 3 minutes per round to share solutions for other groups. This activity focuses on brainstorm of multi groups to explore out-of-the-box ideas as much as possible. Participants are asked to write solution on post-it and put it on the issue without considering budget and other conditions.
Representatives from The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) mention about budget limitation that next-year budget based on future scope is not consistent with current issues. Representatives from Yala Node Flagship project of Thai Health Promotion Foundation consider that the budget cannot support development in the system. The civil society from the organic farming group mentions about project submission and MOU with the government sector such as certification meeting which if they do not have budget, they can do MOU with the academic sector instead as to create knowledge sharing among the parties. Everybody’s projects can be progressed through this cooperation. Moreover, MOU will fix budget issue.
HOW: Connecting the Vertical Dots – Presenting policy frameworks that define directions, resources and outcomes for sustainable food system and agriculture as well as connecting vertical dots
Based on the stakeholder mapping yesterday, we group stakeholders today to jointly formulate policies in order to solve local issues by analyzing causes, individuals, society and environment. Then, highly impacted issue is addressed to make decisions, conduct trials and review performance.
After considering the 5 Tracks of the food operation framework, solutions for all 5 Tracks are suggested. In terms of experience from support of The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) for vulnerable groups, it lacks lesson learned of ongoing production which hides gaps and solutions for enhancing efficiency of the production. Moreover, there are Young Smart Farmer groups in every community which encourage local people to establish groups, but there is no support to build connection due to zero budget for forming cooperation. Thus, to enhance efficiency, network of potential farmers and ranch should be built to match large agricultural land plot, enterprises and Smart Farmer. Another issue of support for vulnerable groups is mismatch between distributed materials and capacity because the same materials are distributed to all groups which are inconsistent with geography and local people. There is no integration across agencies, even though root cause has been discovered.
Policy Dialogue – Identifying direction of food system and sustainable agriculture, as well as pains and gains in multiple system (Journey Map)
Next step, we specify public policies a process from the public sector and the process for innovation from the public sector in four steps, starting from policy formation, solutions and decision making, execution, and evaluation. Policy and people journey mapping aims to make understanding of each step, and methods such as community establishment and discussion to formulate plan which lead to option design. In addition, the journey map is also designed for both parties to revisit their feelings and experiences. Policy / People Journey work on 4 important issues which are as follows:
- Capacity of agriculture production
- Capacity of farmers and processors to be entrepreneurs
- Low agriculture price
- Malnutrition in children
Process is to specify activities that will create understanding of the situation, design solutions, execute, monitor, and evaluate policies. Participants are separated into 2 groups, i.e., policy team and people team as to reflect plan/policy makers’ perception, experience, and execution opportunities. Then, roles of 2 groups are switched to share findings from different perspective as to explore solutions of issues between the government sector and the public. Capacity of the public and source of data are acknowledged, and the government sector understand issues based on data or statistics. This process leads to joint-design of solutions and execution rather than knowledge sharing.
Brainstorming Ideas: Co-creation to break silos in the local food systems
According to the brainstorm of issues, solutions, partners based on personas and key performance indicators, participants are grouped based on province and subgroups are formed to handle interesting issues. Then, participants are required to specify issues from the issue market and idea market, partners, and indicators. After that, they have to summarize benefits of the ideas.
Build a learning center that encourage farmers to refine self-development. Build agriculture cluster (pitching projects to the provincial agriculture office) and coordinate with Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council, universities, provincial agriculture office, fishery sector with aim to develop farmers to become entrepreneurs as to strengthen sustainability. Over hundred thousand of farmers must have mindset of businessman. Expert team will support about process management, business models, and fundraising according to the policy of security, wealthy and sustainability.
Develop network of organic farms-seafood safety by gathering farmers who produce and sell their own products and coordinating with provincial PGS that certifies standards as well as selling stories of such local products. We aim to instill core value into the new generation to be proud of being local farmers.
Promote durian brand from Yala to be recognized nationally and internationally through Durian Buffet Event and create a buzzword “Durian Yala” and attract tourists to the province as well as learning processing by product such as durian peel.
SDG-PGS from the issue of failure to access markets and no supply data; innovative solution will be executed to have database for marketing planning as to plan production and carbon credit which will reduce costs. Moreover, BCG will be conducted to audit plot standards, issue certification, and generate QR code that can trace back online. This will lead to processing, research, local tourism, lesson learned and development as process innovation which is free of charge. Lastly, the system will mitigate issues of failure to access the management.
There are questions about whether performing SDGs is considered sustainability? The answer is No. We need to consider work operations that will not create new problems by taking 4 principles of SDGs into account, i.e., Inclusive/ Indivisible/ Universal/ Transformative
Iceberg analysis is conducted by choosing 1 key issue and specifying factors according to current situation and mindset. Then, brainstorm is conducted to find expected support from the government to solve the key issues. From the brainstorm, we find similar issues that numbers of young farmers drop, natural disaster causes damage to products, and price is not good. Moreover, the structure issue is the government system that does not strengthen future of farmers. Thus, farmers change career. They have attitude that farmer is not prestigious career and does not need to have education to perform the career. The government should issue governance of marketing mechanism and provide support in terms of knowledge, data, skills, resources, and technology continuously.
It involves an open attitude. It allows the emergence of a true understanding of the community’s reality. It is in connection with co-creation and prototyping: the needs and opportunities of the community are known, and these discoveries are connected to co-creation and prototyping. “The goal of this listening methodology is, not only to collect data and perform analysis to obtain a set of results, but also to contribute to change through the application of the methods in question.” (Jayne Engle, 2018.) For a social transformation, it is essential to know the narratives and take them into account for the design and implementation of actions. Knowing and working with these narratives helps us to build common narratives that favor collective action.
Co-creation offers the opportunity for everyone to openly discuss their ideas and opinions, so that at the end of this process several ideas are prioritized by the participants. Co-design helps structure team interactions around these ideas and align participants around specific goals and results to move forward. The final component, prototyping, is about implementing and experimenting these ideas.
What Next …
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