Skilled facilitation opens new pathways
A particularly sensitive issue emerged around a livestock loan agreement initiated by a former high-ranking government official and a large Lao company. The company provides Brahman- Thai cross-bred cows to farmers who then pay back in-kind with calves. “Usually in three years we can give back to the company two calves and then the cow is
ours,” said Somsavang, a member of the group’s Board and owner of ten cross-breed cows. “But they require a lot more care then our native Lao cattle and need special feeding. Also, the company was not collecting their calves when they said they would and we had to continue to feed and care for them.”
Forging links, building bridges
An element of the CDAIS approach is building bridges between people. Connecting smallholders with government services means CDAIS projects will continue long after the funding ends. Based on the group’s plan, CDAIS facilitated a training-and-study tour to NAFRI’s pig research centre in Vientiane in November 2017.
Senior officials in the Lao government and concerned organizations and business enterprises are increasingly interested in policy formulation based on science and evidence-based research. Technical assistance and funding for policy research is increasingly linked to hard scientific evidence and demonstrated success in the belief that better policies will be formulated, and existing policy implementation gaps will be addressed. Decision-makers continue to seek solutions to persistent challenges to sustainable agricultural development that form the research agenda for the Policy Think Tank. These are: Agricultural technology issues, Farmer organization issues, Livestock technology and fishery issues, Agro-economic issues, Agrobiodiversity issues, Agricultural land issues, Forest management issues, and Nutrition agriculture sensitivity
The purpose of this research brief is to synthesize the f ndings of ten policy research studies conducted by NAFRI’s Policy Think Tank (PTT) research team between 2016 and 2020, and complementary research studies. The research was related to commercialisation of agricultural products in Lao PDR.
Tea plants are native to East Asia and evidence of tea consumption in China goes back to the 2nd century BC. In Laos, tea was presumably cultivated and traded as early as the 7th century (Earth Systems, 2016). Forest tea, which includes both ancient and wild tea1, has been grown in Northern Laos for centuries (Marseille, 1990). In the 1920s, the French brought tea from Vietnam to cultivate on the Bolaven plateau and recognized the quality of wild forest teas from Xieng Khouang (Pedersen et al., 2016).