FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

FAO and Lao People’s Democratic Republic move forward with Hand-in-Hand Initiative to accelerate resource partnerships for sustainable agriculture and rural development

12/05/2021 Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic

The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry has welcomed international support to accelerate the country’s sustainable agriculture and rural development at a virtual workshop organized jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  

The Minister, Phet Phomphiphak, made the remarks during the Asia-Pacific region’s first inception workshop of FAO’s global Hand-in-Hand Initiative, a country owned and led initiative, coordinated by FAO, and now moving forward in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The workshop served as an opportunity for international partners from Vientiane, Bangkok, Rome and New York to start working together formally. It also launched the initiative’s resource mobilization effort in earnest, as the operational phase begins. Indeed, the event proved very popular, attracting more than 130 participants.

“Hand-in-Hand’s matchmaking approach has brought together donors, private companies and international financial institutions to speed up action,” said Minister Phet Phomphiphak. “With strong partnerships and solidarity, we have an opportunity to implement national agricultural policies and consolidate LDC (Least Developed Country) graduation.” 

Hand-in-Hand aims to unlock the country’s agricultural potential to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition, as part of a broader effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. As such, it supports the Government’s Agriculture Development Strategy to 2025 and Vision to the year 2030.  

“When we talk about building back better and greener, we must focus on rural areas, where food and agricultural systems are concentrated,” said Maximo Torero, FAO’s Chief Economist. “It’s where the majority of the poorest people live and work as smallholder farmers. So rural development is key, and the Hand-in-Hand Initiative is designed to do it and the Lao economic corridor is a clear example of this.” 

Hand-in-Hand activities have been ongoing for more than six months. They include territorial-level analysis to identify target areas, value chain analysis, and the launch of a joint task force between FAO and the Government on China-Lao railway development. The railway is expected to build better transport networks and improve access to national and international markets from rural areas.  

In the Asia and Pacific region, FAO is supporting governments through the Hand-in-Hand Initiative in a number of other countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu by supporting them to develop programming, investment and partnerships for agricultural transformation. The ultimate aim is to reach the least developed areas and raise incomes and food security for all. 

Hand-in-Hand – Evidence-based, transformative impacts

The Hand-in-Hand Initiative is evidence-based, country-led and country-owned to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development to eradicate poverty (SDG 1) and end hunger and all forms of malnutrition (SDG2). In doing so, it contributes to attaining all of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Hand-in-Hand Initiative focuses on enhancing agricultural productivity to improve nutrition and raise rural living standards. The programme uses geospatial, bio-physical and socio-economic data and analysis to identify subnational territories where innovative solutions and investments in agri-food systems and rural development can have transformative impacts. 

The initiative prioritizes countries where national capacities and international support are the most limited or where operational challenges, including natural or man-made crises, are the greatest. To learn more about the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, visit: http://www.fao.org/hand-in-hand  

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