A Memorandum of Understanding was signed yesterday by H.E. Dr. Phouang Parisak Pravongviengkham, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and Mr. Tim Enderlin, Director of Cooperation for the Mekong Region of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Switzerland will provide USD 5.1 million to the third phase of The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative (TABI) Project.The renewed funding supports the conservation and the sustainable economic use of Agro-Biodiversity (ABD) and the use of participatory forest and land use planning.
The overall goal of TABI is to contribute to poverty alleviation and improve the livelihoods of upland communities through sustainable management and use of agro-biodiversity in the multifunctional landscapes of Lao PDR.
Lao PDR is considered a “mega-bio-diverse” country and a “Centre of Origin” of many agriculturally important domesticated plants, where ABD is a key source of food and income security especially for the rural poor in the uplands. The challenge that The Agro Biodiversity Initiative (TABI) takes up, is to leverage the country’s rich ABD capacity into a mechanism to realize development goals based on viable social and environmental practices.
Since 2009, TABI has identified, tested and disseminated a large number of ABD livelihood models, based on specific product value chains such as crispy river weed, specialty tea, honey, traditional varieties of sticky rice, non-timber forest products and native livestock.
H.E. Dr. Phouangparisak said: “TABI supports the country towards green economic development through the improvement of agrobiodiversity based value chains which are now renowned regionally and internationally”
The project is also developing a participatory approach for forest and land use planning and management, and will further focus on the dissemination of knowledge, tools and practices to be used at local, national and international levels, advocating for the integration of ABD in planning, development and decision making.
Tim Enderlin said: “Upland rural poor communities are relying on and use biodiversity resources in different ways, in their unique traditional agriculture and livelihood systems. As TABI is working in multiple diverse environments, the inclusion of forest and land use planning is an important part of an integrated approach.”
This final phase of the project (2017-2020) will focus on ensuring that ABD value chains are sustainable by working with farmers, private sector, local initiatives and provincial and district staff. It will also work with the government agencies to help adhere to and report on global agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.