Mekong region conference to pose new approaches to agricultural investment

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Mekong region conference to pose new approaches to agricultural investment


13 November 2017

This week a regional workshop, hosted by Mekong Region Land Governance, will explore the challenges of large-scale agricultural investments to suggest solutions supportive of sustainable and pro-poor development, as well as economic growth.

The event will examine how to improve national regulatory frameworks and the agreements between private investors and communities.

The workshop will bring together more than 100 participants from government, private sector, research institutions, and civil society across the Mekong countries, including China, along with international organizations and partners.

Land grants for agro-industrial concessions are not new and can be traced back to the colonial era. But since the 1990s, a wave of large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural investments re-emerged world-wide, particularly in the Mekong region.

The convergence of the global food, financial and energy crises in the mid-2000s has intensified interest in large-scale forms of agriculture to unprecedented levels in the Mekong.

However, expected results from large-scale agricultural investments, including income generation, modernisation, productivity boost and increased government revenues have been disappointing, and instead have often led to social and environmental impacts that have been problematic for communities, the investors themselves and the government.

Government, investors and development organizations have been directing their efforts towards designing and implementing mechanisms that protect smallholder farmers and promote more responsible agro-industrial investments. In the case of Cambodia and Lao PDR, governments established moratoria on large concessions.

More than two decades down the road, it is critical to learn from these developments, especially given that national governments have become increasingly aware of the limitations of the agro-industrial model and the problems associated with its implementation.

Workshop participants will discuss:

  • the positive and negative impacts of investments on rural smallholder farmers, as well as the concessionaires;
  • the effectiveness of current national regulatory frameworks; and
  • the experiences of engagement between the private investors and rural communities

The workshop will produce recommendations for alternative approaches to agricultural development and investment to be more inclusive of smallholder farmers.

The event, which will take place at Lao Plaza in Vientiane from November 15-17, is co-hosted by the Investment Promotion Department of the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Mekong Region Land Governance Project, with co-conveners, Oxfam and the Institute of Policy and Strategy and Agricultural Research and Development, Viet Nam (IPSARD).

The Mekong Region Land Governance, is a project of the Government of Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, with co-financing from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Government of Luxembourg.


Dr. Kate Rickersey, Mekong Region Land Governance

Office tel: 856 21 454807 (in Laos)

Follow workshop updates at: MLIKE on Facebook

Hashtag: #MekongAgInvestWksp

Also: #LargeScaleLandAcquisitions #AgroIndustry #AgricultureInvestment #MekongDevelopment #MekongAgriculture #ProPoorDevelopment #SustainableDevelopment #AlternativeDevelopment  #ResponsibleAgInvestment

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