The variety of products, such as pottery, handicrafts, and cookies, may catch your eyes wherever you go in Thailand. Those products are mainly made by villagers, who have focused on how to make products in order to earn additional income. However, "they produce what they want to produce, but they do not really pay attention to what customers want to buy," said Mr. Wichien, who is Chief of Foreign Relations Section of Cooperative Promotion Department (CPD). Mr. Wichien also pointed out that they have difficulties on how to manage their groups and how to open up new markets. Each group needs a group leader who has sufficient knowledge, skills, and abilities to get over these difficulties. JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) has been dispatching Japanese experts to Thailand in order to support carrying out better training programs and to share their experiences and knowledge for the future group leaders.
Ms.Nongnuch Puanlaied, who is the group leader of Bagan Batik Group in Krabi, explained how the group and herself have changed since joining the training last year. Ms. Nongnuch said, "I had no idea how to communicate with customers before the training. I was too shy and I did not know how to promote our products. However, I learned effective ways of promotion and presentation of products through the training. I got the confidence to speak in public and to communicate with customers. I got many ideas of product designs as well. In the past, we only made T-shirts with tropical pictures. After joining the training, however, we started painting geometric design not only on T-shirts but also on jackets and other kinds of clothes. Furthermore, I was able to expand my network with other group leaders. We can now share our experiences and difficulties we have been facing."
Mr.Kurita, who has been dispatched to this project as a long-term expert (Cooperative Management), said, "training participants tend to think they can receive something from the government, but we would like to change their minds. Our trainings have always been trainee-oriented programs. Japanese experts or lecturers never teach the trainees what to do, but instead, trainees themselves need to think what they can do and what they have to do." He hopes and believes that group leaders will learn new information and ideas by joining the trainings, and they will become more active and more independent in the near future.