Women’s leadership in organic farming and marketing in Laos

June 19, 2017

Lao People
Lao People's Democratic Republic

Women's leadership in organic farming and marketing in Laos

About the Implementing organization

Name: Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association (SAEDA)

Country: Lao People's Democratic Republic

Year of establishment: 1991

Type of organization: Legally recognized non-profit status

Description

Women farmers provided the leadership to support the organic farming and marketing of the produce. The initiative organized 1,600 families in 74 villages in 5 districts of Xieng Khouang province. Women farmers were concerned about the impact of pesticides in the province and when they about SAEDA's work to train farmers on organic farming, they contacted SAEDA who organized the training in 2009. Women started to practice organic farming including composting, soil preparation, seed selection, and conservation, mulching, growing cover crops and manual weed management. They produce and received support from Department of Agriculture Extension and Cooperative (DAEC-MAF) for further capacity-building which they received. The women farmers came together to organize themselves into the Organic Farmers Association that mostly headed by women and 95% of members are women. They are innovating to continue their organic farming. The organization working with SAEDA and the DAEC-MAF requested for space to sell their organic products to consumers. Through their advocacy, they were able to obtain space to sell their products in an organic market.

Nature Element

Forests / Mountains / Rivers

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Pollution prevention, clean up / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Health

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

    

Environmental Impacts

Use of pesticides in the Xieng Khouang province has affected the environment. The use of herbicide in Kham district taking is huge. In one study interviews with shopkeepers in Kham District reported selling 12.9 tons of herbicides in the maize growing season in 2016, with a retail value of $70,000 tons. A survey of pesticide use by farmers in 10 villages of Kham suggests that the shopkeepers were under-reporting and actual sales were probably 4 or 5 times higher.

The community where this initiative was taking place complained that pesticides were contaminating the rivers and soil. It was causing the loss of diversity including of animals, crops, and plants. Pesticide use was affecting their livelihood including mushroom collection in the forest, fish, and natural vegetables. This initiative is the solution for pesticide elimination and thus protects the mountains, rivers, and forests from pesticides effects and increases soil fertility, soil nutrition, biomass, diversity are ensured.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Techniques promoted to farmers are simple, low investment, materials are available at the local level which farmers can do all year long by themselves. The techniques also promote bio-diversity and self-dependency. The techniques are effective in increasing productivity and quality which promotes health and protects the environment. Farmers sell their products they produced at a higher price compared to previously. They have a strong farmer organization to ensure knowledge sharing, coordinated production plan, and effective market operation. They have more than 70 million Kip in their saving fund and 19 million Kip for an operational fund. More than 200 farmer experts have been developed by the initiative and provide training to around 13,130 farmers across the country. 59 students did their internship program with members of the association. The association is a member of the Lao Farmer Network. Participatory approaches ensured participation of farmers in process at all levels.

Scalability

The initiative has the support from the government through policy advocacy of SAEDA, Organic Farmers Organization, and the local government:
1. The policy of Government provides increased support for organic agriculture and farmers' organization. Farmers have been selected to speak in the government workshops in local, province, national and regional level.
2. Organic Farmers have been selected by Governor to exhibit their organic products at local, national and regional events.
4. Organic Agriculture is a priority development in Xiengkhaung Province and at the National level.
5. Organic farmers were selected by the national government to be a pilot area for the first phase of developing the participatory guarantee system (PGS).
7. Organic farmer's committee is part of national steering committees of Lao Farmer Network (LFN) supported by Department of Agriculture Extension and Cooperative (DAEC-MAF).

Replicability

This is very replicable and can be done with a process of training of farmers on organic farming. This has been replicated and being replicated in Laos right now. It requires support for training by SAEDA or a local group that has the expertise on organic farming, support from local government would be useful as it will facilitate other support such as marketing. In addition, establishing a farmers organization would be useful.

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