LAO PDR (Vientiane Times) - The United States has agreed to provide more than US$6.9 million to strengthen the agriculture sector through the Laos Microenterprise project in Xieng Khuang province.
The United States is funding the five-year project (2019 - 2023) through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The project will focus on developing efficient, effective, and competitive agricultural microenterprises that will help farmers operate on business principles, train farmers and farming microenterprises to respond to market needs, increase market linkages, and improve access to finance.
Director General of the Department of Technical Extension and Agroprocessing under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Sypaphai Xaisongkham, and Chief of Party ACDINOCA Laos, USAID’s implementing partner for the project, Ms Sophie Walker, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the framework programme on Friday. S Charge d’Affaires to Laos, Mr Colin Crosby, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Bounkhouang Khambounheuang, witnessed the event.
“The agreement reaffirms our commitment to helping the Lao government to achieve the country’s development goals in boosting trade and economic growth through its microenterprises,” Charge d’Affaires Crosby stressed.
“For both the United States and Laos, agriculture is essential for our economies and is an important part of both of our cultures,” Mr Crosby added. Dr Bounkhouang said “The ministry is undertaking our third agricultural strategy and the information generated will be used to form the next national socioeconomic development plan for 2020-2025 and Vision 2030 on sustainable development.”.
“As strategies into the future, collaboration in the new project will support our intended outcomes, which will improve farmers’ business knowledge, reduce farm operating costs and improve market linkages with agro-processing companies,” he added.
Dr Bounkhouang was excited to see the project’s activity plans to harness the use of social media through smartphones as a new way to disseminate information to farmers and their plans to engage the private sector in the supply of such information as a market tool to increase the uptake of different technologies.
In particular, these networks can be used to spread information on technologies that can help ease the burden of manual labour, particularly addressing the unequal burden of family and agricultural work on women.
With this new investment, the United States is currently supporting two multi-year agriculture assistance programmes, worth more than US$15.9 million. In addition to this project, the United States also works in partnership with the government and citizens of Laos in many areas to improve education, promote health and nutrition, facilitate trade and investment, and strengthen the rule of law.