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Investment Promotion Department launches new project to better regulate agro-business investments in Lao PDR.
Foreign investment in Agriculture can bring both positive and negative impacts. In recent years, public attention has been raised on the negative consequences of the development of the banana plantations in Northern Laos, especially for the environment and for public health.
The Government have taken action by suspending new banana plantations, and the Investment Promotion Department (IPD) of MPI has decided to undertake a pilot project to develop appropriate guidelines for future investments, ensuring improved and more responsible sustainable management of banana plantations and other land based investments. This project, named the “Land Lease Agreement for Plantation (LAP) Project” started implementation on the 15th November 2016 for a two year period. It is supported by MRLG through its Innovation Fund (IF) grant facility.
A Province level inception meeting was held in Luangprabang province, co-chaired by Mr. Bounsong Thattavong, Deputy Head of Provincial Planning and Investment Office of Luangprabang, and Mr. Outakeo Keoduangsinh, Deputy Director General of IPD. Government officials (27 in total) from 5 target provinces (Luangprabang, Sayaboury, Luangnamtha, Oudomxay and Bokeo), as well as taskforce members from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and representatives from MRLG and GIZ joined the meeting.
Many research studies have been conducted and the provincial meeting served as a platform for discussion and for sharing experience on investment results and impacts of banana plantations in the Northern provinces. The meeting recognized both positive and negative impacts from banana plantation. Although the provincial authority made lots of efforts to address banana plantation issues, there are differences in their efforts and mechanism to address those issues that might imply how provincial authority coordinate with central ministry. There was joint agreement at the meeting on the importance of having common conditions and standards which should be developed as a banana plantation management guideline/regulation and implemented in all provinces. Consequently, Mr. Outakeo urged for a common understanding on investment law identifying which “investment approval” could be approved by the planning and investment department.
As a next step, the project is planning to organize a national workshop to facilitate more discussions among relevant ministries and propose options for consideration.