Thateng Integrated Organic Farm

August 4, 2017

Lao People
Lao People's Democratic Republic

Thateng Integrated Organic Farm

About the Implementing organization

Name: Thateng Integrated Organic Farm

Country: Lao People's Democratic Republic

Year of establishment: 1996

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization

Description

The mission of this farm is to be a training ground for young people and farmers in four southern provinces of the Bolaven Plateau. Thateng Integrated Organic Farm provides training and technical assistance on appropriate technologies for food production, resource management, and income generation. Lao farmers have long been practicing traditional farming, using indigenous knowledge, which is organic by default. But this has changed with increased used of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides, promoted by companies with interest free loans and promises of better yields. Thateng Organic Farm is trying to combat this influence on the environment and the health of the Lao people by training the farmers to go back to traditional organic practices with the help of specific techniques such as organic compost, bio-extract and integrated organic farm design.
This is taking place in authoritarian country run by a single party regime, where alternative solutions are not encouraged and easily associated with dissent or opposition to mainstream development model. The strength of PADETC has been to navigate this very constrained environment to empower local farmers and young people through participatory learning, valuing local potential and indigenous knowledge.

Nature Element

Forests / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Sustainable use / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Health / Renewable energy / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

        

Environmental Impacts

The use of environmental friendly agricultural practices is limiting the use of harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizers that are contaminating water and soil, as it is already happening an an extensive scale through the continued expansion of industrial plantations as a model of development promoted by the Lao government.
By helping local farmers to improve their farming practice and produce quality products, PADECT is contributing to improve revenue generation and preventing other environmentally damageable activities, such as logging or charcoal production (which is usually taking place when poor farmers are left with no alternatives).

Sustainable Development Impacts

Thateng Organic Farm increases Lao farmers resilience in a fast changing environment. Although organic farming is more labour intensive, farmers trained by Thateng Integrated Organic Farm get a better price for their crops. They create a safer environment for their families, not exposed to dangerous chemicals. Thateng Integrated Organic Farm also sub-contracts some of these smaller farms as part of a larger organic production contract.
PADETC is not only improving food security for the farming communities directly engaging in this initiative, but also contributing to general food sovereignty by promoting diverse and quality production of agricultural products for local consumption, by opposition to large export oriented monoculture plantations.
Rivers in Laos, including the mighty Mekong River are contaminated by chemicals being abundantly used on industrial plantations and increasingly on food crops as well. Reducing the use of chemicals helps save the rivers.

Scalability

PADECT scaling-up strategy lies in the investment in young people. It has always been Sombath\'s priority to educate young people, because they are the agents of change and will be the future responsible citizens and leaders. Young people are more likely to change their behavior compared to adults, because they will be the one left with all the problems that present generation is creating.
In 2012, Thateng Integrated Organic Farm provided training and coaching on integrated growing of organic vegetables to 462 community members. In 2013, an agreement was made with the district authorities to conduct agricultural extension services in four districts for the promotion of organic vegetable production and selling of products. Through official cooperation with the extension services, PADETC has succeeded to demonstrate its relevance and credibility. This opens the door for continued expansion.

Replicability

PADECT is replicating this models of sustainable practices through other learning centers:
- the Suanmailao Eco-Forest Learning Center, located in a 14 hectare of previously depleted forest in Sang Houa Bor village, Vientiane Capital.The main mission of the Center, which was started in 2009, is to educate young people and the general public on the importance of ecology in relation to holistic education and development.
- the Panyanivej Eco-Rice Fish Farm. The mission of Panyanivej is to educate young people and the general public about integrated rice-based farming systems and use of low input sustainable agriculture techniques.

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