The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo, visited the Lao PDR during 22-25 July 2019.
During the visit, he met with Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, as well as representatives of UN teams in the country to discuss investments that can improve food and nutrition security, generate employment and mitigate the effects of climate change in rural areas.
The visit focused on the roles of smallholder farmers in improving household nutrition and food security.
In Lao PDR, the majority of smallholder farmers practice subsistence agriculture, but they have the potential to develop their farm businesses if they have access to finance, trainings, technology and commercial markets, said Mr. Houngbo before his visit.
IFAD is an experienced development partner, working with governments to transform rural areas, reduce poverty and hunger, and increase livelihoods for rural smallholders in the region, he added.
In the Lao PDR, approximately 80 per cent of the population live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and natural resources for their survival. Most farmers use traditional farming methods and lack access to functional irrigation and good roads.
Many struggle to meet their households food requirements, making malnutrition a critical issue, with chronic malnutrition affecting 33 per cent of children under five.
In addition to the Prime Minister, during his visit to the Lao PDR, Mr. Houngbo met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somdy Douangdy; the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Lien Thikeo; the Minister of Planning and InvestmentSouphanh Keomyxay and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Saluemxay Kommasith, and other development partners in the Lao PDR.
IFAD President also travelled to Xieng Khuang Province to visit the IFAD-managed Strategic Support for Food Security and Nutrition Project and met with Xieng Khuang Governor Bountone Chanthaphone, provincial authorities and Kham district authorities to see how people’s lives have been impacted by the project, as well as to hear about the challenges that they still face.
The project helps smallholder farmers produce crops and livestock that correspond to market demands, while facilitating collaboration between farmers and the private sector.
IFAD began operations in the Lao PDR in 1978 and has implemented 15 projects, investing US$156 million and directly benefitting 329,775 households. Currently three projects are ongoing.
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience.
Since 1978, IFAD has provided US$20.9 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 483 million people.
IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome � the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub.
Source: Lao News Agency