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Laos moving forward in establishing guidelines for responsible agricultural investment
Laos is now well on the way to ensuring responsible agricultural investment, thanks to a series of study visits undertaken by government representatives.
After a study visit to China in 2016 and field trips to various provinces in Laos, the Investment Promotion Department (IPD) of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) embarked on another journey to the Philippines in September 2017.
This visit was a learning opportunity to enable the IPD to develop appropriate guidelines for responsible agricultural investment in Laos, with a focus on banana plantation leases. The development of a set of guidelines is the key output of IPD’s project Lease Agreement Plantation (LAP) supported by the Mekong Region Land Governance project (MRLG).
The team consisted of representatives from four divisions within IPD and deputy directors from five pilot provinces, headed by MPI Deputy Director General Outakeo Keodouangsinh. Representatives from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and MRLG also joined the team. The team is also the taskforce members.
With the objective of having discussions on available policies, regulations, instructions and laws related to the investment management on crops plantation, the team met with the Asian NGO Coalition, Regional Offices of the Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform, and Davao City Investment and Promotion Centre. Interactions with two agrarian reform community beneficiaries in Davao City enriched the learning experience, and IPD had fruitful discussions on existing laws and rules and regulations in the Philippines.
Topics included good agricultural practices, land tenure security, and land tenure investment arrangements such as lease-back, lease agreement, contract farming, and joint-venture developments.
Armed with additional lessons from the Philippines, the Team came back to Laos with a handful of recommendations to encourage responsible investment in agriculture and promote security of land tenure of communities. The following are the recommendations directly contributing to the development of the guidelines for the LAP Project:
- Good Agriculture Practice: Lease Arrangements for Plantations will include waste management; packing houses; pesticide management; chemical use; training for workers on the safe use of chemicals equipment and tools; quality control; disposal and storage of chemical equipment and tools; and toilets and washing facilities for personal hygiene.
- Exportation Processes: Lease Arrangements for Plantations will work closely with the relevant agencies and organizations to ensure exportation processes are followed; Standards of Good Agriculture Practices shall be included in instructions or guidelines.
- Community Empowerment: Lease Arrangement for Plantations will ensure the participation of communities that may benefit from investment projects by ensuring awareness of instructions or guidelines, information exchange and feedback during implementation and investment monitoring.
- Networking Communication: Lease Arrangement for Plantations will work with development projects and government institutions (MAF, MONRE) to ensure the formulation of instructions, and their effectiveness and benefits for farmers.
IPD of the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the provincial/ municipal planning and investment sector serves as the agency to assist and be the “think tank” for the Committee of Investment Promotion (CIP) in facilitating the organization and activities of the one-stop service office of the planning and investment sector. CIP, under the chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister, is established to promote and manage the works related to domestic and foreign investments in Lao PDR aiming to create a conducive business environment.
The study visit to the Philippines is part of the Lease Agreement Plantation Project of IPD under the MRLG Innovation Fund. GIZ provides management and technical supports to the LAP project as Co-partner.