PDPO Project Phase 2 - Support to Agricultural Development in the Mountain Areas of La and Namor Districts, Oudomxay Province, Second Phase
The mountains of northern Laos are characterized by some of the highest poverty rates in the country, partly due to the relative isolation of communities. In the districts of La and Namo (Oudomxay province), for example, poverty affects an average of 25% of households and up to 39% in rural areas. The province is highly economically dependent on the agricultural sector, which accounts for 56% of the wealth produced locally and mobilizes 80% of its labor force. This farm population faces a relative lack of arable land - about 46% of the province's farmers have access to less than 2 hectares, making it particularly dependent on natural resources (through hunting, fishing and gathering) for their food security, the collection of food in the forest to compensate for the lack of food, especially during the lean season. In 2017, natural resources generated 15% of the income of the targeted villages during the first phase (agricultural revenues corresponding to 72% of total revenues). Previous studies have also shown that on average, the consumption of forest products represented the equivalent of 40% of the total annual income of rural families in Laos. However, this relative diversity of products consumed does not prevent a high incidence of undernutrition and malnutrition in rural areas. On the other hand, local ethnic minorities use the forest to stock medicinal plants and to satisfy religious and cultural beliefs and practices.
However, relocation of villages and mining and agricultural concessions have reduced access to the land and forests of communities. Similarly, the proximity of China, where many forest, animal and plant products are exported, puts additional pressure on natural resources.
Finally, the gradual opening of the province to regional markets, facilitated by the accession of Laos to ASEAN, as well as the promotion of cash crops and industrial crops by the National Strategy Plan, tends to increase the use of pesticides , both nationally and locally. If in 2010/11, 11% of farmers used such products in Oudomxay, the trend was to increase due to deployment of export crops such as maize, tobacco, sugar cane or beans. While these crops generate income for villagers, they also raise issues of water pollution, soil and public health. In addition, despite strict legislation on plant protection products, imports and uses of illegal pesticides have been observed locally. These infringements are mainly due to pressure from contract farming companies, lack of farmers' knowledge of regulations and the dangers of plant protection products and the lack of control by local authorities. In addition, farmers reported the first cases of herbicide resistance, intoxications as well as diffuse pollutions caused by pesticides. They are now seeking alternatives to these products on the one hand and information on their dangers and the methods to use them on the other hand.
Thus, communities face challenges in safeguarding their access to agricultural lands, natural resources and a protected environment, from which they remain particularly dependent for their food security and out of poverty.
2. Beneficiaries and Project location
The project aims to support 40 remote villages of the district of La and Namo, located in Oudomxay Province.
3. Project Objectives
Overall Objective: Contribute to rural development and livelihood improvement in the villages of La and Namor districts (Oudomxay Province)
Specific Objective 1: Improve the health and nutritional status of communities.
Specific Objective 2: Contribute to agricultural development and diversification
Specific Objective 3: Contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources and the defense of community rights
4. Project duration
The project started on May 1, 2018 and will end on April 30, 2021.
5. Project Partners
Local authorities and in particular PAFO (provincial department in charge of agriculture and forestry) are historical partners of the CCL in Oudomxay. They co-ordinate the project, facilitate access to the villages and make their teams available for setting up activities.
SAEDA is a pioneering Lao association in the promotion of agroecology, which will be involved in the pesticides component of the action.
DECA is a young Lao association that will bring its expertise on the themes of natural resources and gender.