Beyond the Border,
Create the Future


Cross-Border Mutual Learning Project

  • Case.1

    Trilateral Innovation
    Social enterprises from Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam coming together in an effort to promote Organic Agricultural Practices across Asia

    Countries in Asia such as Japan, Philippines and Vietnam saw the rise in awareness for organic agriculture in recent years. Yet, it has not spread enough compared to other regions such as Europe and North America to address the environmental and health issues. In Japan, land used for organic agriculture remains low and there is lack of market access for organic farmers. Likewise, in Vietnam and Philippines, challenges like low awareness among the public and environmental factors caused by global warming are slowing down the process. Although these challenges are unique to each country, Asia now facing the issue of how to promote organic agriculture as a region.

    In this project, we promoted both diverse interaction of stakeholders involved in organic agriculture, and collective learnings of good practices between various countries in Asia, beginning with Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. In addition, as social entrepreneurs and NGOs play an important role in bringing together different stakeholders in addressing social issues, we aimed to strengthen their capability through mutual learnings. The selected leaders share their takeaways and powerful synergy they created from the exchange.

    *This project was made possible by the Toyota Foundation International Grant Program.

    Social enterprises of organic agricultural business from Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan visiting an organic farm in the Philippines

    “Renewed Vision for the Future”

    With the mission to build prosperous and sustainable farming communities in rural Vietnam and around the world, Fargreen., JSC is a social enterprise from Vietnam working with rural farmers to produce and sell organic mushrooms grown on rice straws, honey and vegetables to businesses like hotels and restaurants.

    “I expected the program to be the place of mere exchange of technical know-hows, but I was pleasantly surprised to have gained much more. This program gave me better clarity on how to run an organization and vision for the future,” commented the founder and CEO of Fargreen, Ms. Trang Tran.

    As the deliverable, Fargreen created detailed handbooks on production of three types of organic mushrooms, and with the partnership of the local government, organized a workshop to share them to nearly 70 farmers. In addition, inspired by the synergy created during this project of bringing different partners together, Fargreen also hosted a luncheon in collaboration with the chef of a prestigious hotel in Hanoi, where farmers had the chance to dine dishes prepared using the vegetables they grew and feel firsthand the value of their products.

    For the handbooks of mushroom production, please see these PDF files:
    - Oyster Mushrooms
    - Straw Mushrooms
    - Button Mushrooms

    Ms.Trang Tran, CEO and founder of Fargreen, at dinner enjoying organic meal

    “Growing a learning and sharing community”

    Good Food Community (GFC) is a Filipino social enterprise aiming to provide alternative food system that connects small-scaled organic farmers and consumers by providing delivery services of organic vegetables to consumers and to businesses in the metropolitan area. With the approach of “Community Shared Agriculture (CSA),” GFC has been working with several farmer cooperatives across the Philippines and has been purchasing organic vegetables directly from them with consistent price.

    In reflecting on the impact that this program had, Ms. Charlene Tan said, “In the same way that we were trying to teach our farmers how to access the market economy, it felt as though this project had taught us how to access the knowledge economy by growing a learning and sharing community of practice.”

    Recognizing the importance of sharing ideas with the local organic agriculture community and those who hold the same vision, GFC produced “the CSA manual” that aims to share the knowledge they have gained through their 6 years of practice, from how to communicate with small-scale farmers to logistics. They then held a workshop, where they were launched the CAS Manual and cultivated a wider community of practice.

    For the video of the workshop done by GFC using the manual, please see this link:

    Ms. Charlene Tan from Good Food Community and Ms. Tran of Fargreen having a discussion

    Courage to Face Challenges Together

    SAKA NO TOCHU Ltd., is a company based in Kyoto, Japan, that works closely with new organic farmers to distribute organic vegetables to consumers and business partners. With the vision to develop an online platform that better connects producers and consumers in overseas market, SAKA NO TOCHU team held many discussions with Fargreen and GFC to gain ideas during the project. After the field visits to Philippines and Vietnam, SAKA NO TOCHU decided that more interviews and studies are necessary to come up with IT solutions to solve the real issues faced by overseas organic agriculture community with better understanding of the current needs.

    In addition, SAKA NO TOCHU also hosted Mr. Ernest Barreiro, the core member of Good Food Community, for two weeks to gain further insights on developing an IT system for the overseas market. It was also an immersive experience for Mr. Barreiro to experience the operations and the organization culture of SAKA NO TOCHU firsthand.

    “When it comes to solving social issues, we are prone to facing challenges that seem to have no end. It is a difficult and lonely road. This program was a special opportunity for me to share the struggles with other leaders with the same mindset, and at the same time encourage each other throughout the process,.” Mr. Kunihiko Ono, CEO, reflected.

    Please access the following link for the concept website in connecting producers and consumers:

    Team of SAKA NO TOCHU touring around the mushroom production site in Vietnam