LURAS - Lao Upland Rural Advisory Services


Laos is an agriculture-based country in transition. Farmers in the Northern region require additional knowledge, skills and access to resources to organize themselves within the ongoing agricultural socio-economic changes. Switzerland’s expertise in inclusive economic development, climate change and environment will support rural advisory services during this final phase to sustainably stimulate climate resilient and lasting improvements in agricultural production and income generation for these farmers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Laos
Agriculture & food security

Agricultural development
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations
Agricultural financial services
01.12.2021 - 30.11.2025
CHF  5’200’000
Background The 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan 2021-2025, is centred on a green growth strategy including promotion of climate resilience actions as well as clean, safe and sustainable agriculture. With this, the Department of Policy and Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has promoted the implementation of the Green Extension concept, an approach developed under the previous phase of LURAS. Green Extension is a type of rural advisory service which supports the scaling up of sustainable agriculture by facilitating socio-ecological learning processes with farmers. Laos’ progress in reducing the poverty rate has been impressive, yet uneven, with small farmers and members of ethnic minorities living in remote areas continuing to be vulnerable. Presently, farming families in the upland areas of Laos lack additional knowledge, skills and access to critical resources to innovate and organize themselves in the context of a rapidly changing market economy, extreme climate change and the COVID-19 outbreak. 
Objectives A demand-driven pluralistic extension system, involving various service providers including self-determined farmer organisations, has been established to support inclusive, resilient farming systems and agri-business, which in turn creates fairer and sustainable incomes.
Target groups Smallholder farmers in the uplands, both women and men, and especially youth and members of ethnic minorities, will continue to be the primary beneficiaries of LURAS activities. Consisting of 250,000 farming households present in the project target area (census survey, 2015), the project expects that 1% of them (2,500 farming households) will be directly involved in learning and marketing activities and 10% (25,000 farming households) have accessed new information generated under the project that potentially will contribute to livelihood improvements. At least 50% of beneficiaries are women and 35% are members of ethnic minorities.
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Green and sustainable agriculture, including climate resilience in line with the Government’s Agricultural Development Strategy and National Strategy on Climate Change is promoted by extension services.

Outcome 2: Rural youth and farmers’ organisations have greater income and employment opportunities through engagement with markets for healthy and high-value products.

Outcome 3: Responsible investment, fair contracting and value adding for the benefit of all partners is increased through enhanced relationships between agricultural producers, companies and the government

Outcome 4: Decision-makers and policy makers have improved access to information and opportunities for dialogue that supported green and sustainable development in the agriculture sector including climate resilience.

Results

Expected results:  

·         Guidelines for Green Extension and Climate Resilient Agribusiness have been produced and disseminated, master trainers have been certified and capacity for implementing Green Extension has been increased and applied in five Northern Provinces.

·         The AGREE scheme for young entrepreneurs has been implemented in ten Northern provinces.

·         Partnerships are established between farmer organisations, small enterprises, processing companies and exporters for selected high value products in the Northern Corridor.

·         The Farmer and Agribusiness Learning Centre (FALC) is operationalized, including training facilities and demonstration areas for processing and packaging.

Policy studies and dialogues have been carried out on key issues related to green and sustainable agriculture, agribusiness and climate resilience. 


Results from previous phases:  

-    1,252 farming families are now engaged in commercial agriculture such as tea and coffee to improve their production, income and food security.

-    The Green Extension approach was adopted and is widely promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

-    Successful restructuring of the Lao Farmers’ Network in accordance with the needs of market-related services, including business-matching.

-    More than 30 micro-enterprises, managed by rural youth through the Agripreneurs for Green Rural Enterprises and Economy (AGREE) scheme, took off successfully.

-    125 youth are involved in project activities in Xieng Khoung (61 women, 57 Hmong or Khmu ethnic groups).

-    54 extension materials, 13 technical studies, policy briefs and key presentations were produced and disseminated.


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
Foreign state institution
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Central State of South East
  • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
  • SDC Field Office


Other partners
Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation 
Coordination with other projects and actors ENUFF, VTESS, SURAFFCO, PTT, MRLG, DTEAP, LFN 
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    5’200’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    600’000 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   17’070’701 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   5’200’000
Project phases Phase 3 01.12.2021 - 30.11.2025   (Current phase) Phase 2 01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021   (Completed) Phase 1 01.08.2013 - 31.12.2017   (Completed)