Organic agriculture is sprouting in Vientiane, though it still has a long way to go.
Despite growing concerns for food safety and the rising number of people visiting the early morning organic markets in the city, a recent survey found that awareness of what this type of agriculture means, is still rudimentary.
Organic agriculture promotes healthy soils and ecosystems, relying on local conditions instead of on inputs that might have adverse effects. It’s a system which combines tradition and science to benefit everybody and everything around. Organic agriculture is growing crops with naturally- occurring materials and without any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Traditionally, this was the way of Lao farming, though over the years there has been a decline.
Now there is a new threat. With the insatiable demand from across the border many farmers are using chemicals indiscriminately to boost production. Others, are switching to growing industrial crops such as rubber and eucalyptus. With agricultural concessions rising, trends indicate the increasing use of chemical fertilizers. The long-term damage to the soil, water resources and people’s health can only be imagined.
Types of green agriculture practised in Laos: 1)organic agriculture; 2)good agriculture practices (GAP); 3)pesticides free products (PFP); 4)conventional agriculture.
So what is the future for green agriculture in Laos?
The Lao Ministry of Agriculture and the Lao Organic Certification Body (LCB), a department within the Agriculture Ministry, are working hard to develop this important sector of the Lao economy. Local and international farming organizations have been making steady inroads into organic agriculture, with mixed success. Companies such as Lao Farmers Products, Mai Savanh and AgroAsie work broadly across the organic sector and assist others when they can. Collaboration is essential in this emerging market. For organic agriculture to take seed in Laos, it will require more than just a ‘belief’ in the benefits of sustainable agricultural practices. There has to be continuous and intentional support from the government with policies that are stable and long-term. University research, agricultural training and private and public sector investment will be vital components in this success story. Only then will it be possible for organic agriculture to blossom in the fertile ands of Laos.
Logo for certified organic products in Laos.
Agro Asieis an organic-certified social enterprise creating employment through organic agriculture in one of the poorest districts of Laos-Sangthong. www.agroasie.com Mai Savanh LaoMulberry Leaves Silk Tea ® is a Fair Trade product, 100% organic and has received the ”Organic Agriculture Certification” label. www.maisavanhlao.org Lao Farmer's ProductsInnovator of organic and Fair Trade products of small producers in Laos. www.facebook.com/LaoFarmersProducts