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FAO Organizes Study Tour for LAO Government officials to Bangladesh (28 May-3 June)

05/06/2016

FAO recently organized a study tour to Bangladesh for five Lao PDR government staff to learn Bangladesh’s experiences in “strengthening capacity for mainstreaming nutrition into Agriculture and promoting community-based nutrition-sensitive interventions” from 28 May 2016 - 3 June 2016. All the team members were nominated from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Lao PDR. The delegation was led by Mr Savanh Hanephom, Deputy Director General, Department of Planning and Cooperation, MAF. 

The five-day long tour was designed to demonstrate the broadly-based approach taken in Bangladesh by the extension services, the relevant line ministries and their agencies, and the relevant research organizations to promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture. The visit included a two-day field trip in Fulbaria and Haluaghat upazilla in Mymensingh, and the Bangladesh Agricultural University, focused on best practices for the nutrition sensitive agricultural interventions with a core focus on homestead production.  It also covered village-based savings organisations, and information centres (Farmers Information and Advisory Centre), which may provide practical examples which could translate to the Lao context. 

The Dhaka portion of the visit included a discussion with the Secretary of Food - Mr A M Badrudduja, and Director General, Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU)- Mr Naser Farid, at the Ministry of Food – covering the implementation of the Government’s vision 2021 and the 7th Five Year Plan.  The target is to reduce the upper poverty level to 14.1% by the end of the decade, while emphasis is being placed on  diversifying food production.  The Secretary stressed the importance of the high level national committee – chaired by Minister of Food – which is responsible for food security and food safety issues.  The Country Investment Plan (CIP) for Food Security provides the key roadmap, and was produced by the FPMU with support from FAO through two long term projects funded jointly by USAID and the EU – currently “Managing the undernutrition challenge” (2015-2019). 

Visits were also scheduled with the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and team on nutrition; IFAD; the FAO Food Safety Project team, led by Mr Sridhar Dharmapuri; the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Training on Applied Nutrition (BIRTAN); theBangladesh Agriculture Research Council (BARC); and the GAFSP-funded Integrated Agricultural Productivity Project, and the Department of Agricultural Extension in order to witness the institutionalized approach towards incorporating nutrition consideration in agricultural policies, plans, and programme, taken by both the government and development stakeholders in Bangladesh - with particular attention to budgetary coordination, transparency and accountability.  

During the visit, the Laos delegation also had an opportunity to meet the representatives from some of the donor organizations active in the field of nutrition, including Hellen Keller International, Unicef, DFID at an interactive knowledge sharing session hosted by the Delegation of the European Union in Bangladesh. 

Back to Lao PDR on 3 June 2016, the officials are now seeking ways to integrate lessons from Bangladesh into their own nutrition sensitive interventions..    

Mr Khonesavanh Vongxay, National Project Coordinator of SSSJ & TCP/LAO/3503, Department of Planning and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Phouthalom PHETLASY, Agronomist, PRCO Attapeu, Mr Khamphan SILAVY, Head of planning and cooperation section, Saravane- PAFO, Mr Seumsee SOULITA, Deputy of PAFO, Sekong PAFO were the other members of the delegation.