Agriculture and Food Security
Improved Food Security in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
- Project Name: Northern Rural Infrastructure Development Sector Project
- Region/Country: Southeast Asia/Lao People’s Democratic Republic
- Sector and Themes: Agriculture and Food Security
- Year: 2011–Present
- Project Leaders: Khamtanh Chanthy
The project highlights the importance of complementary capacity building initiatives for national, provincial, and district agencies to enable the creation of a sector development approach.
Less than 10% of the land in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) was classified as arable, with only about one-fifth irrigated. Mountainous terrain, drought, and lack of infrastructure restricted arable land and the farming seasons, often threatening the year’s food crop.
Year-round crop growing through improved irrigation facilities and agriculture infrastructure can help ensure food security for the Lao PDR. ADB is helping the country improve agriculture infrastructure in the northern regions to boost farm yields and income, through improved irrigation systems and rural access roads. The project has rehabilitated and upgraded rural access roads from the command irrigation areas to villages. A first phase financed through the Asian Development Fund (ADF), the Northern Rural Infrastructure Development Sector Project, targeted 26 gravity-fed irrigation schemes to improve water supply in arid farmland. Additional ADF grants of $35.6 million targeted funding for 22 additional irrigation systems and new farm access roads.
Knowledge products and services delivered
The project has supported improved monitoring and evaluation, and the creation of water user groups, and farmer production groups for improved management of agriculture land, for farmers’ more bargaining power to negotiate with buyers. The project helped train water user groups and farmer production groups to better manage the upgraded and newly created infrastructure. It has supported subproject beneficiaries and producer groups to coordinate supplies of agricultural products to markets and processors and contracted agricultural production with price incentives based on quality and introduced initiatives to secure land tenure and access to land for sedentary agricultural production. Land rezoning helped protect the integrity of watersheds and reservoirs. Institutional capacity building was also provided for national, and subnational agencies toward a sector development approach.
These helped to improve agricultural productivity, diversify crops, and commercialize the low-performing agriculture sector in the northern region. There are 33 ongoing training programs in technical, social, and geographic information systems, project monitoring and evaluation, operation and maintenance, value chain development, and financial management. These programs will train almost 3,000 trainees (29% women). Some 60 water user groups and village road maintenance committees were established and registered for all the 22 subprojects. The water user groups have 276 members, of which 116 (42%) are women, and the village road maintenance committees have 55 members (33% women). Fourteen farmer production groups were established at 12 subprojects. They have implemented contract farming with local and Chinese investors to sell their commercialized agriculture production to Chinese border markets.
Impact and results
The project supported increased agricultural productivity in the four northern provinces of Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, and Phongsaly. With gravity irrigation, most of the farmers have focused on planting commercialized agriculture products with high market demand, where can earn a more stable income. The project has also improved irrigation systems and strengthened food security.
Lessons for Replication
The project highlights the importance of complementary capacity building initiatives for national, provincial, and district agencies for a sector development approach. Study tours enabled project participants to visit and exchange lessons with others, learn good practice, build networks, and exchange technical experience.