Thanks to improvements in infrastructure and energy generation, as well as growth in its mining and tourism industries, economic growth continues in the landlocked nation of Laos, population 6.7 million. As development continues, however, inefficient land use and deforestation threaten the country’s agriculture sector and rural regions. Improved planning for sustainable agriculture in Laos is needed.
The variable terrain and geographical features of Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, make the region susceptible to natural hazards. High mountains, low valleys, rivers and wind all contribute to floods, typhoons and inconsistent weather patterns. Dense forests have played a vital role in combating impacts of extreme weather as they protect slopes and banks. But as forests are logged for increased production, the ecosystem is becoming more vulnerable to weather and climate effects. In turn, sustainable agriculture in Laos is constantly challenged by the nation’s actions.
With aid, the government of Laos is working to improve current land use practices, as well as repair the damage done thus far.
Laos and the United Nations Development Program
Under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Climate Change Adaptation initiative, the Advancing Cross-Sectoral Climate Resilient Livelihoods program specifically addresses the dilemma of one sector’s progress affecting the development of another. The program works toward economic diversity, climate resilient technologies and climate resilient social protection.
Another specific goal of the program is policy revision and improvement in land use planning. After extensive analysis of flood and drought-prone areas in different Laotian provinces, the program intends for collaboration among more than 100 planners from national to local levels in generating new practices in land use plans.
Laos and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Maintaining focus on agriculture and farming practices, the government and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations developed a Country Programme Framework (CPF) for the nation, outlining plans to achieve sustainable agriculture in Laos with four projected outcomes:
- Fostering agricultural production and rural development
- Improving food security and nutrition, with special focus on the vulnerable (poor women and food-insecure farm households)
- Protecting and enhancing forests and other ecosystems
- Improving capacity to respond to food and agricultural threats and emergencies and the impact of climate change
Each projected outcome of the CPF for agriculture features multiple projects led by multiple partners, all working to attain the set goal.
For true progress, each sector of an economy requires alignment of its successes with the other. Through aid, collaboration, resilience and a desire for unity, sustainable agriculture in Laos will be achieved.
– Jaymie Greenway