The Swiss government has granted more than 58 billion kip (CHF 7 million) to improve farming practices in the uplands of Laos.
A Memorandum of Understanding to implement the project of Lao upland rural advisory service phase II (LURAS) was signed yesterday in Vientiane between Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham and representative of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mr Tim Enderlin.
The LURAS project adopts the green extension methodology which supports the development of smallholder agriculture in a way that aims to secure the future well-being of farming families.
Green extension involves the promotion of both agro-ecological practices and green agribusiness, with smallholder farmers in the uplands the primary beneficiaries of the project.
It also recognises that farmer organisations can play an important role in representing the interests of such producers.
Helvetas, a Swiss NGO, is implementing LURAS in Laos in partnership with the Technical Extension and Agro-Processing department (DTEAP).
Phase II will be implemented over four years until maturing in 2021. The development of a green economy is seen as a cornerstone of the Lao government’s development strategy toward graduation from least developed country status. Two–thirds of the country’s population resides in rural areas, with a vast majority of these households involved in farming. As such, the promotion of healthy and sustainable farming practices and thriving rural enterprises is essential for the achievement of national goals. Landlocked nations with extensive highlands, the governments of both Laos and Switzerland have been cooperating to improve farming practices in the uplands of Laos since 1990. For more than 25 years, the partnership has supported projects in agricultural research, education and extension.