Organic farmers struggle to strengthen capacity
Vientiane organic vegetable production groups are still facing some challenges in developing their membership and promoting sustainable business.
Group members have poor organic farming practices, limited knowledge of pests, diseases and organic fertilizers and face challenges to comply with uniformed quality standards for organic production according to a Capacity Development for Agriculture Innovation System (CDAIS) assessment.
They also have limited support from local technical advisers to organise high quality control and provide less expensive organic testing kits while information about the market and linkages between organic market experts and vendors is limited.
Experts suggest the cause being limited support from the government as well as limited resources of the smallholders to develop Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) and Organic Agriculture Practices (OAP).
In addition, organic certification costs are quite high says an assessment from CDAISs’ work with the Organic Vegetables Association and district agricultural authorities.
These organic vegetable production groups consist of 11 groups in five districts; Vientiane includes Xaythany, Hadxaifong, Sikhottabong and Naxaithong.
To develop the groups, experts say they will need to improve the capacity of farmers and farmer leadership and require cooperation and assistance from different sectors such as local technical advisers, the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), the District Agriculture and Forestry Office, the Organic Standard Division, banks, organic market experts and other projects, government and donors.
The priorities included strengthening capacities and an awareness of the need to change the provision of services to farmers by local extension services or the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Extension and Cooperatives.
The ability to link farmers with local technical advisors especially those at NGOs and the private sector and collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce will also need to be improved.
Improved management capacity to set high internal quality control and leadership, improve capacity to identify and use organic fertilizers and biological control and improved knowledge by leaders in the organic vegetable value chain are also all high on the agenda.
The domestic organic vegetable market in Laos is growing rapidly but the experience and knowledge in producing, processing and marketing organic products remains low due to limited support from government.