In recent decades, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has experienced rapid economic growth and poverty reduction. Although the national poverty rate has declined steadily, an estimated 23 per cent of the population still lives below the poverty line. More than three quarters of the Lao people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and natural resources for survival. Poverty and malnutrition are more prevalent in rural areas and among ethnic groups, who are concentrated in remote and mountainous areas adjacent to the north-eastern and eastern borders with Viet Nam. More than 80 per cent of people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, while more than half of households are subsistence farmers with annual incomes below US$300. Farmers struggle to meet their household food requirements. The country’s smallholder farmers face a range of constraints to engaging in market-oriented production, including poor infrastructure and limited access to technical support and financing. Most use traditional farming methods and lack knowledge of new technologies and skills to improve yields. Productivity is also affected by declining soil fertility and lack of access to irrigation
The geography of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic lends itself to the development of high-value products and raw materials that can be sold for a profit in neighbouring countries. The country sees itself as a “land bridge”, providing the most direct overland transport routes between its seaboard neighbours. But playing this role requires improving and developing infrastructure to facilitate connections between rural areas and urban markets
Eradicating rural poverty in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic Rural development remains central to the Lao government’s development and poverty eradication efforts. The country’s new rural strategy, for the period through 2020, includes a strong focus on modernizing agricultural production and creating valueadded food and agricultural products. The strategy aims to reduce rural poverty, maintain food security and apply science-based management to natural resources. Development of the agricultural and natural resources sector is aligned with the National Socio-Economic Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to regional programmes, especially those of the Greater Mekong sub-region and the Economic Community of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
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Source: Programme Management Department, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)