LAO PDR awards FAO on clean agriculture



 

 

 

24 April 2017, Vientiane - The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos has delivered an award to several projects and development partners, including FAO, in support of clean agriculture. The award comes as a result of a FAO project that has trained thousands of farmers in sustainable farming practices and strengthened pesticide regulation. 

This follows a ministerial meeting reviewing plans of the clean agriculture policy in support of sustainable agricultural production. During the next two days, farmers showcased healthy and environmental-friendly produce to the public at a trade fair, also organised by the Ministry.

The awarded FAO project “Pesticide Risk Reduction in South East Asia“ has supported governments of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam to address pesticides misuse and overuse since 2007 thanks to Swedish funding. Along with improving pesticide management, the project has focused on supporting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) through season long Farmer Field School (FFS).

IPM is an ecological approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides. The FFS approach is a well-established method to learn IPM in a participatory manner during full farming seasons. It has enabled farmers to replace the use of hazardous and persistent agro-chemicals with alternative options.

Building farmers capacity to reduce pesticide risks

In Laos, farmer education in IPM is much needed to reduce the indiscriminate use of chemical inputs, both fertilizer and pesticides, and associated social, environmental and economic concerns.

Small-holder farmers and their families are exposed to hazardous chemicals as part of the farmer’s daily crop production activities, causing poisonings and chronic health problems. Overuse of pesticides is also known to harm key ecosystem services such as natural biological pest control, pollination and nutrient recycling systems. Farmers’ income is also negatively affected by unnecessary spending on pesticides and by denied access to international trade because a product exceeds international limits of pesticide residues.

Cooperation between FAO and the Government of Lao DPR in the areas of IPM and FFS is part of a long standing effort which began in 1996. Initial efforts focused on rice, due to its centrality in the country’s agricultural makeup. Substantial IPM training work in vegetables started in 2000 and more recently in other crops, including fruits and cassava.

Over the last 2 decades, 31,658 farmers (including 5,923 woman) in 842 villages of 11 provinces have benefitted from participation in rice and vegetable Farmers Field School (FFS) conducted by the Lao FAO-IPM project. Two of these IPM-FFS graduates, producing GAP & Organic vegetables for local and export markets, were among the proud awardees!

IPM FFS graduate farmers typically reduce pesticide inputs, get higher yields and make better profits compared to conventional farmers. This is due to better crop management decisions as a result of regular field monitoring and expert agroecosystem analysis. Specialised FFS have also allowed farmers to access innovations such as disease-tolerant varieties (for tomatoes) and bio pesticides.

Along with developing their knowledge and skills in IPM through participation in season-long FFS, farmers have also formulated community action plans on pesticide risk reduction for implementing in their own communities after participation in 3-day training courses. Some have become experts and leaders for educating others.

 Linking IPM farmers to trade opportunities

At the moment in Laos, 45 farmer groups cultivating 10,000 ha are registered to do organic and low chemical inputs agriculture. These represent more than 3000 families for which market return is vital. The possibility to be competitive and market attractiveness is also key for seeing sustainable agriculture expand.

In addition to the technical support to local farmer groups for transitioning from high input to IPM and organic agriculture, governmental plans intend to develop domestic and international trade. The agricultural department will develop marketing strategies based on the analysis of domestic and international market demand.

The agricultural department also aims at building and developing the local market system, facilitating buyer groups to deliver products including rice, coffee, tea, vegetable and other commodities to local restaurants, hotels and markets. The department will also seek to enlarge permanent market place to sell the IPM and organic produce in target provinces and set up guarantee systems to manage production and price.

 

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Media contacts:

Mr. Chanthalath Pongmala, Assistant FAOR (Programme), FAO Laos:  chanthalath.pongmala@fao.org

Ms. Livia Loy Donà, Pesticide Risk Reduction (surveys) and Communication, FAO Rome:  livia.loydona@fao.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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