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Policymakers mull national action plan to strengthen agroforestry

Laos is meeting challenges include competition for land use, a shortage of land for agricultural production, lack of good-quality seeds and a skilled workforce, inadequate use of modern farming methods, and a lack of agricultural equipment on the way to developing agroforestry, improving people’s way of life, enhancing food security and ensuring environmental protection is sustainable.

To pursue the successful development of agroforestry, Lao researchers and policy makers met in Vientiane last week to discuss the national action plan for agroforestry development in line with ASEAN guidelines. Producers also lack support and marketing confidence and have insufficient capital, especially for the purchase of seeds and agricultural equipment while government policy on agroforestry is unclear and lacks direction.

To ensure successful development, the government should create a 10-year action plan for agroforestry and draw up guidelines on production methods as well as providing short and long-term credit to bolster agroforestry in upland areas as well as boosting the capacity of farmers, ensure better access to markets and make it easier for farmers to obtain essential basics such as seeds, fertilizer and equipment.

Agroforestry is a valuable tool in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals because it can raise people’s standard of living, help mitigate climate change and enhance food security. Deputy Director of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Dr Chansamone Phongoudom said on a recent meeting on the topic. Successful agroforestry helps to create a balanced environment and ecological systems, creates a link between forestry and foodstuff production and bolsters sustainable forestry management at the national and regional levels, he said.

A project to scale-up agroforestry in the ASEAN region to strengthen food security and benefit the environment is being supported by financial and technical assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in the Asia-Pacific. The project is being rolled out in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

The objective of the project is to boost the capacity of technical staff at district, provincial and central levels for analysing policy and marketing planning. They should also be able to develop the agricultural economy to ensure the success of national plans on food security and nutrition, Dr Chansamone said. The main target of the project is to implement ASEAN guidelines on agroforestry development to test their effectiveness in Laos. Feedback will be given on past experiences for the formulation of action plans on agroforestry and funding proposals for future developments.

Source: Vientiane Times