Vientiane, Lao PDR (December 20, 2023): the Agroecology Learning Alliance in Southeast Asia (ALiSEA) hosted a crucial workshop in Vientiane, Laos. This one-day event, held at the Grand Hotel, brought together over 30 participants, including ALiSEA members, government officials, farmer organizations, and private sector representatives, to delve into the world of certifications for agroecological products.
The event commenced with an introduction to ALiSEA and its unwavering commitment to fostering agroecological practices in the region. As Manivanh Aliyavong, an ALiSEA representative, eloquently stated, “We believe that agroecology is not just about organic farming; it’s about building a holistic system that respects the environment, empowers farmers, and ensures food security for all.”
The core of the workshop unfolded through a series of engaging panel discussions featuring renowned experts from across the agricultural landscape. Representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DOA) – Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), farmer cooperatives, and the private sector each shed light on specific certification schemes, offering invaluable insights into their intricacies and practicalities.
- Panel 1: Led by a representative from the DOA, unraveled the complexities of Lao Organic certification and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), highlighting the rigorous standards and meticulous inspection processes involved.
- Panel 2: Moderated by Ms. Manivanh, explored the unique value proposition of Geographic Indication (GI) and One District One Product (ODOP) certifications, emphasizing their focus on preserving cultural heritage and promoting local specialties.
- Panel 3: Convened by Mr. Sayvisane, tackled the critical realm of Food and Drug certifications and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), underscoring their paramount role in ensuring consumer safety and hygiene in food production.
These interactive sessions were far from mere presentations; they were vibrant exchanges of knowledge and experiences. Participants actively engaged with the panelists, posing questions about affordability, accessibility, and the challenges of navigating complex bureaucratic processes. The resulting dialogue fostered a sense of community and mutual support, reminding everyone that the journey towards agroecology is not a solitary one.
Organic certification has opened doors for us,” shared Vilamon Phommalad, a member of the Thongmung organic cooperative. “Our premium prices allow us to invest back into our farms and improve our livelihoods, all while ensuring healthy food for our communities.
As Mr. Thongdam from SAEDA aptly summarized, “This workshop has been a crucial stepping stone in our collective journey towards a more sustainable and equitable agricultural future for Lao PDR. By working together, by sharing knowledge, and by advocating for supportive policies, we can ensure that agroecological certifications become powerful tools for empowering farmers, protecting our environment, and nourishing our communities.”
The ALiSEA workshop on agroecological product certifications proved to be a crucial platform for knowledge exchange, collaborative problem-solving, and policy advocacy. By equipping participants with a deeper understanding of the available options and fostering a united voice for improved agroecological practice, this event has paved the way for a more sustainable and equitable future for Lao PDR’s agricultural sector.
Get your hands on the presentations and related resources right here: