Title of document: Presentations from the Laos Vegetable Forum 2017: Fostering a safe and sustainable vegetable sector

Authors:

Ministry/Government Agency/Organisation: CRS, KEI, NAFRI, ACIAR

Year of publication: 2017

Geographic focus: Lao PDR

SummaryIn the Lao PDR, vegetable production provides around 80% of domestic demand, mostly produced by smallholder farmers. Throughout the country, there are large differences in consumption between provinces. Challenges to vegetable production include suboptimal yields, poor competitiveness, high postharvest losses, product that does not conform to quality and safety demands of consumers, limited technical capacity and difficulties in meeting market demand during some periods of the year. Additionally, the recent establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community has implications for cross-border trade regulations. Thus there are many opportunities for both producers and the private sector to benefit from improved connections and sustainability. The vegetable sector offers smallholder farmers an option to diversify their production systems and market opportunities, improve household nutrition and increase incomes for farmers and traders. Importantly, it also offers women a source of income, and can help improve household food security. As the sector develops, opportunities for market engagement, input supply and agro-processing will increase.

These challenges and opportunities can be addressed in many different ways, and with a range of stakeholders. In Laos, there are public, private and development partners working to improve the productivity and profitability of the vegetable sector. Bringing these stakeholders together at a forum is a way to understand the current situation in Laos and create potential networks to foster sustainability in the sector. The Lao Vegetable Forum has been organized on 26th October, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Vientiane.

The forum had several objectives, including to:

-       Highlight the latest research and development activities;

-       Forge networks between public, NGO and private sector professionals throughout the region working in this area for communication and collaboration;

-       Provide an opportunity to learn about developments in the region; and

-       Facilitate the exchange of ideas on sector development.

In the first forum, the theme was ‘Fostering a safe and sustainable vegetable sector’. It started with an overview of the current status of the Lao Vegetable Sector. The main sessions focused on introducing different kinds of standards, and then options and examples of smallholder organisation and market arrangements. A final panel discussion was held to highlight the experiences of different kinds of stakeholders within the vegetable sector. Key themes that arised from the presentations and discussions will be synthesised and addressed in subsequent forums.