Farmer organizations are an essential element to improve agriculture development, increase farmers' bargaining power and support local development. Unfortunately, farmer organizations are still emerging in Laos. This has a number of consequences. First, agricultural services are almost exclusively produced and delivered by the public sector (mostly extension, through DAFOs) or the classic private sector (companies, notably through a 2+3 arrangement).
In both cases, producers are only marginally involved in the production and provision of these services. In addition, the capacity of farmers to own their development trajectory is limited. Farmers stay mostly at the production level, while most of the added value strategies are developed by companies (branding, packaging, etc.).
Local authorities will continue to have difficulties initiating and building meaningful consultation processes at local levels with farmers on rural development issues as long as farmers do not have their own organizations. Many agricultural development policies remain at a very general level, non-specific (MAF has no specific strategy for the development of coffee, maize, etc.), and fail to be implemented at the local level as the authorities lack local interlocutors able to enter into partnerships or agreements with the public sector to identify, develop and implement these policies.
This component will help facilitate the establishment of farmer organizations in the target areas as well as better understand the enabling mechanisms to help scale out and scale up farmer organizations.
In the framework of the NUDP, the establishment and strengthening of farmer organizations aims at two objectives:
- Improve quality and commercialization of products by providing services to groups members
- Favour producers interests and improve relations with other stakeholders in the value chain
- Constraints and opportunities re farmer organizations are understood.
- Provincial Agriculture Offices have the capacity to provide required training and back-stopping to field staff in 9 district and field staff have the knowledge/skills required to facilitate emergence of inclusive Farmer Organizations
- Farmer organizations become more sustainable and autonomous, better connect with their environment and diversify the scope of their functions to the benefit of poor farmers in the target districts