LAOS: MAF deputy minister, French Ambassador, and AFD representatives visiting EFICAS villages in Luang Prabang

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From 19 to 21 January 2019, H. E. Deputy minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Dr Phouang Parisack PAVONGVIENGKHAM, H. E. Ambassador of France in Lao PDR, Mrs Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, Mr Mathieu Bommier, French Development Agency (AFD) representative in Lao PDR, representatives from MAF departments (Planning and Cooperation, Inspection, Agricultural Land Management, and Irrigation), and representatives from local authorities have visited different agricultural development projects (NUDP-SARI[1], NUDP-EFICAS[2], FORAE[3], RECOSEL[4]) implemented by the MAF in Luang Prabang province with financial supports from AFD.
Visits included Pouthong village, in Viengkham district, where the EFICAS project supports since 2015 the village community in designing and implementing land use plans that incorporate innovative agroecology practices amongst which the improvement of crop-livestock interactions is central.
In Phoutong, activities have started in 2015 with the participatory identification and fencing of four livestock areas, collectively agreed regulations on animal roaming, sowing of a limited area of improved forages, and the investment in animal health through the training of four village veterinary workers, and the establishment of an animal health revolving fund. In 2016 and 2017, farmers have enlarged and consolidated fences, increased the improved pasture area (up to 60 ha), re-discussed collective vs personal management of fodder resources and invested in animal well-being through the set-up of collective and individual stalls. Animal vaccination rate has tripled and farmers engaged in the short-term fattening of goats have seen their income increased significantly. Few farmers started to collect and use animal manure for their vegetable gardens. In 2018, the set-up of two water tanks close to animal stalls has further tighten-up the links existing between crop and animal production systems. 49 households (out of the 72 village households) are currently engaged in manure composting and vegetable production during the dry season. A short video on this “vegetable-goat raising” integrated system is available here.
Mathieu Bommier, AFD representative in Lao PDR, highlighted that “participatory and landscape approaches were essential to re-design, together with farming communities and local authorities, agricultural systems and landscapes”.
H. E. Ambassador of France in Lao PDR, Madame Florence Jeanblanc-Risler noted the “visible synergies and complementarities of the different projects supported by AFD in the area”.
M. Sisavath Phimmasone, DALaM[5] staff supporting EFICAS project activities in Luang Prabang Province, insisted on the need to be adaptive and flexible: “The plans must be renegotiated regularly by the whole community to adjust to unpredictable events such as extreme weather conditions, locust attacks, new crop opportunity, deviant behaviors from initial plans or evolving local policies. This is a true learning process that takes time, requires trust building, and strong initial support!”
Group photo in Pouthong village: Farmers explaining to officials collectively-agreed land use plans and management rules in Pouthong village (Xaphokham @2019)

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[1] NUDP-SARI : Northern Upland Development Program, Small Agricultural Rural Infrastructure component
[2] EFICAS : Eco-Friendly Intensification and Climate-resilient Agricultural Systems
[3] FORAE : Forestry and Agro-Ecology in Lao rural Uplands
[4] RECOSEL : Reinforcement and Expansion of Coffee Sector in Laos
[5] DALaM : Department of Agricultural Land Management within MAF
(source: EFICAS project)