Lao Upland Rural Advisory Services (LURAS)


The rapid transformation of the rural economy brings smallholder farmers in contact with a wide range of new service providers (private agribusiness companies, farmer organisations, non-profit associations). The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) recognizes that greater pluralism in service provision is needed. LURAS supports a multi-stakeholder market-based approach to promote demand-driven service provision to farmers and strengthen the capacities of farmers’ organizations.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Laos
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural services & market
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations
Agricultural policy
01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021
CHF 7'400'000
Background In Lao PDR, impressive changes in agricultural production occurred over the past two decades. Thanks to infrastructure improvements and market development, smallholder farmers are in contact with a much wider range of service providers and have access to information from a growing number of traders and media. Emerging farmer organisa­tions have gathered to create a network at national level, seeking for a better positioning towards the private sector and for government recognition. Rapid ecological changes and landscape transfor­mation caused by an increased production of commercial crops are impacting the current land use patterns, soil stability and fertility, and directly affect food security of upland farmers. There is an urgent need for regulation and advice that supports good agricultural practices and thereby protects both environmental and human health, and contributes to sustainability. Innovative Rural Advisory Services (RAS) to cope with these challenges are required.
Objectives A demand-driven pluralistic extension system, which involves various service providers including self-reliant farmer organisations, has been established to support inclusive agricultural value chains, which improve upland farmers' food security, opportunities and income in a fair, healthy and sustainable manner.
Target groups

Direct beneficiaries are:

  • Upland farmers (4’000 Households - HH) and Farmers’ Organisations (over 300 - FOs)
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)
  • Agribusiness companies
  • The National Agriculture & Forestry Colleges (AFC) supported by SDC’s SURAFCO project; and schools 

Indirect beneficiaries are:

  • Neighboring upland communities
  • Private sector - individuals and companies involved in agriculture value chains
  • Relevant Government of Laos (GoL) bodies (ministries and line agencies, research institutes, platforms)
  • General public and young generation
  • Civil society, non-government agencies and stakeholders involved in sustainable farming systems
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Healthy and sustainable farming systems in the uplands

Outcome 2: Market systems in rural areas that are fair and profitable

Outcome 3: Extension services are relevant for disadvantaged social groups

Outcome 4: Knowledge systems support green farming and agribusiness

Results

Expected results:  

  • Capacity has been built for the implementation of Green Extension, including expansion of knowledge and skills.
  • Proactive extension services have been delivered: promoting a transition towards more sustainable farming systems.
  • Reactive extension services have been delivered: promoting measures to mitigate negative impacts of current farming systems.
  • The effectiveness of farmer organizations in the target provinces has been significantly improved, including strengthening manage­ment, networking and access to productive resources.
  • The issue of rural employment is integrated into rural advisory services, particularly the need to create opportunities for rural youth to get decent jobs in agribusiness.
  • Women’s engagement in agricultural extension has been significantly improved, both as service providers and clients, by providing supplementary training and incentives for female staff who will implement field activities with women’s groups.
  • New information systems have been established to bring knowledge to and from rural areas, giving greater voice and choice to field workers and farmers.
  • Decision makers and policy makers in the agriculture sector have access to information and platforms for dialogue.


Results from previous phases:  

  • 5,000 households have received services on value chain development (wild tea, cardamom, organic vegetables, small livestock, coffee, indigenous rice).
  • A tea value chain has been developed with the private sector and smallholders.
  • An awareness-raising campaign “Detox” has been carried out on the misuse of pesticides.
  • A scheme targeting the youth in agriculture and promoting innovative business ideas was successfully implemented.
  • The MAF gender equality strategy from 2016-2025 and vision 2030 has been disseminated.
  • The “Voluntary Commitments for Responsible Agribusiness in Lao PDR” have been produced.
  • The support to the Lao Farmers’ Network allowed the expansion of the number of member organizations from 16 to 23.
  • LaoFAB on-line information service celebrated 10 years of operation (over 4’500 members, 2,650 documents in online repository)


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation


Other partners
Individuals and entities involved in RAS, in rural development and in sustainable farming systems
Coordination with other projects and actors MAF, SURAFCO, TABI, ENUFF, PTT, SNV, SSWGs, SAEDA, CLICK, GDA, DAW, LFN, PRF, SDC Regional Humanitarian Aid Unit (BKK), MTCP2 (SDC Global Program), Lao Decide Info
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   7'400'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   3'800'386
Project phases Phase 2 01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021   (Current phase) Phase 1 01.08.2013 - 31.12.2017   (Completed)