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Thu, 01/26/2012 - 04:46
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ADB loans US$5 mln to boost agriculture in Laos

VIENTIANE,01.26.2012 (KPL)- The Asian Development Bank on Tuesday approved additional financing US$5 million for Smallholder Development Project to boost agriculture productivity in Laos. Signing ceremony of the loan agreement was signed in Vientiane between Lao government representative, Mrs Viengthong Siphandone, Deputy Minister of Finance and ADB Country Director to the Lao PDR, Mr Chong Chi Nia. This project was to help Laos scale up and expand its investments in sustainable small agribusinesses which are helping to boost agriculture productivity, increase incomes and reduce rural poverty. Project will build on an earlier the ADB-funded project that has been initiated since 2003 to strengthen management capacity among farmer groups and help them with agricultural promotion and marketing. “Agriculture is the lifeblood of the economy, accounting for about 27 per cent of gross domestic product and over 70 per cent of employment in Laos”, said Mr Chong Chi Nai. “ADB reaffirms its support to help the country increase its sustainable agriculture productivity to address food security and poverty reduction.” The additional financing will enable the project to sustain the development momentum by replicating good practices of the current project to new eight districts in the current four provinces, namely, Khong and Sanasomboun in Champassak province, Mahasay and Sabangfai in Khammoune province, Atsaphangthong and Phalansay in Savannakhet province and Kasy and Sanakham in Vientiane province. Activities in existing districts, including Sayboury in Savannakhet and Nongbok in Khammoune, under the current project will be scaled up. The first phase of the Smallholder Development Project has been successful. There are 162 Farmer Production and Marketing Groups established with a total of about 9,500 farmers from 329 villages. Capacity building, knowledge transfer and strengthening linkages amongst all members along the marketing chain have reached 530 villages and 29,000 households. The project will be implemented by National Agriculture and Forestry Extension Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry from 2012-2014. Mrs Viengthong said that the government saw an agricultural commercialization is one of priorities in Agriculture and Forestry Development Strategy to transform subsistence farming practice to commercial farming and contribute to poverty reduction. Since 2003, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been a leading agency to implement Smallholder Development Project in order to improve living standard of population by promoting farmers who make small agriculture production to produce more diversified and value addition agriculture and employment and income generation activities to people living in 581 villages of 16 districts in the provinces of Vientiane, Khammouane, Savannakhet and Champassak, she added.