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Statement by H.E. Mrs. Viengthong SIPHANDONE Head of the Delegation of Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republicpresented at the thirty first session of the Governing Council of IFAD

Mr. Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson,
Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I am very honored to attend this thirty first session of the Governing Council of of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), please allow me to, on behalf of the Lao Delegation, present my sincere congratulations to the elected Chairman and Vice-Chairmen of the Thirty first Session of the Governing Council. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the IFAD Organizing Committee and the host country for excellent arrangements of this important Conference and for the warm hospitality extended to my delegation in Rome.

In this auspicious occasion, may I brief you on the situation of the Agriculture and Forestry Sector development and some of the achievements IFAD made so far in this particular sector in Lao PDR.

In general, in the past years, the socio-economic development of the Lao PDR was firmly stable.  The economy has continuously grown by 7, 5% per annum.  In implementing the 6th Five-Year National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2006-2010) of the Lao Government, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has made tremendous efforts in further developing the Agriculture-Forestry sector.  In particular, it has defined 4 main objectives namely:

  • Food production and food security
  • Production of commodities
  • Eradication of slash-and-burn cultivation in conjunction with rural development and poverty alleviation in 47 poorest districts and
  • Sustainable forest management.

In order to achieve these objectives, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has also launched 13 measures by developing the improved animal and plant varieties, expanding agricultural extension network to the grass root level, and improving of managerial skills and others…

This year, the rice production target for this dry season crop is expected to be at 100,000 ha which compared to last year have increased substantially (about 20 %).

Apart from rice, some other commercial crops are planted such as:  maize for animal feed, coffee, soybean, job's tears, sesame and others…

One of the mains reasons of this increase in production are thanks to the Lao Government's policies and measures that aimed at promoting the production in the dry season.

Amongst those measures are

  • the allocation of a new budget to renovate and maintain irrigation schemes damaged by the natural disasters
  • the import tax reduction on agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, equipment,
  • the reduction of the electricity cost for irrigation facilities
  • the reduction of the electricity cost for livestock raising
  • the provision of the agricultural credit with low interest, and
  • measures on cross-border illegal trafficking control.

Meat and fish production is at about 250,000 tons out of which about 145,000 tons is meat and about 105,000 tons is fish from capture fisheries and aquaculture.  In order to manage the forest in sustainable manner, three main types of forests have been identified namely: the natural preserved forests, protected forests and productive forest. 

At present, we are also increasing our efforts in undertaking a land use and soil classification survey at the scale of 1/50,000 for each of the district, strengthening our extension system and networking in the village clusters development to promote investment and poverty eradication.

Unfortunately, during the rainy season of last year, some areas in northern part of the country were affected by flood from the impact of typhoons.  It was also observed that the central part was affected with a slight drought.  In addition, in the southern part, particularly Attapeu Province was seriously affected by the storm.  This natural disaster has caused some of agricultural production lost. 

However, this problem has been addressed adequately and resolved progressively.

Lao PDR together with some of its neighboring countries has been confronting with H5N1 Avian Flu outbreak which occurred already three times in our country:  the first outbreak occurred in January 2004 in three provinces namely:  Vientiane Capital, Savannakhet, and Champasack province.  The second outbreak occurred in July 2006 in Vientiane Capital.  The third outbreak occurred recently in early 2007.  Faced to such a situation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry together with the National Committee on the Prevention and Control of Avian Flu and with the assistance of International Organization such as FAO took very strict measures and compensation scheme are underway.

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,

The Government of the Lao PDR highly appreciates the invaluable support of our partners and particularly IFAD contributing to the country's efforts to achieve our development goals.  Since 1979, Lao PDR has been implementing 10 Projects with the assistance of IFAD, out of which 7 projects have been completed and 3 projects  are on going . The 3 ongoing projects are:

  • the Sayaboury and Attapeu Agriculture Development Project  
  • the Oudomxay Community Initiative Support Project
  • the Improvement of livelihood of poor household through livestock farming in Northern Laos.

The total portfolio of IFAD in Lao PDR amounts more than US $ 138 millions. All these projects involve an Agriculture Component, Rural Infrastructure Development Component, Income Diversification Component, Institutional and Community Development Component, Rural Finance Services Component. The IFAD Country Portfolio Review Report stated clearly that the innovation and successful experience learnt by both the Government of Lao PDR and IFAD for replication where satisfactory and feasible to other poverty eradication programmes in the Lao PDR. All these projects are contributing significantly in the successful implementation and achievement of the Lao PDR 5 Years Development Plan.

I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to express my support to the initiative taken by IFAD to confront with new challenges and to play an increasingly effective role in addressing the challenges of the future and at the same time responding to emerging issues and problems the people of the world is facing nowadays.

Please allow me, on behalf of my delegation express once again my sincere thanks to all of you for your valuable contribution to our country's poverty eradication effort.

We will remain strongly supportive to the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the Millennium Development Goals.

May I take this opportunity to present once again my best wishes to distinguished delegates and a very fruitful and successful Conference.     

Thank you!