WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2018 – More than 140,000 people will benefit from efforts to make rice, maize, and produce farming more productive and profitable, through the Lao PDR Agriculture Competitiveness Project, approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
The US$25 million project will support 28,000 farming households in 224 selected rural villages to improve their yields and product quality, and increase labor productivity and crop sales. Expanding access to high quality seeds, machinery and irrigation schemes aims to reduce transaction costs and enable higher returns for farmers.
“Employing much of our workforce, agriculture is critical for our nation,” said Dr. Phouang Parisak Pravongviengkham, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry for Lao PDR. “As outlined in the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan, Lao PDR has prioritized green growth in its long-term agriculture and forestry development strategy and it focuses on agricultural quality, safe food and products by having small and medium enterprises as the main engine for materializing the strategy. This project represents an important step in that effort.”
Lao PDR’s agriculture sector is facing serious challenges meeting the demand of both international and domestic markets, due to issues of farm productivity, produce quality, and profitability. The project hopes to address these challenges by promoting best practices in farming, to improve the quality of produce and reduce costs; linking farmers to agribusinesses to improve marketing; and shifting to more modern and environmentally-friendly processing facilities and technologies, to improve the product value and reduce losses. Strengthening the enabling environment will also help reduce the costs of doing business in the agriculture sector.
“Lao PDR is working to make its agricultural sector more productive, profitable, and green,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Director for Myanmar, Cambodia, and Lao PDR. “Farming families, agribusinesses, retailers, and everyday consumers will benefit from these efforts to improve the quality, availability and cost of fresh produce. In that way, the project contributes to the World Bank’s multi-sectoral approach toward tackling malnutrition by increasing the diversity of food for a more nutritious diet.”
Through diversified production, the project will combat stunting, which affects over 40 percent of children under five in Lao PDR. The project will encourage farming communities to diversify their diets, improve cooking and processing of food, and reduce women’s time in farming through the use of modern machinery. Farmers will also use climate smart technologies to develop cleaner and higher value agricultural products,
Locations for the project, to be implemented through 2024, include Khammouane, Bolikhamxay, Sayaboury, Vientiane Province, and Vientiane Capital.
The World Bank supports Lao PDR through its Country Partnership Framework 2017-2021, which is organized around three focus areas of inclusive growth, investing in people, and protecting the environment, all of which will be supported through the new agriculture project.