Making a difference in Asia and the Pacific



Issue 18: December 2007


In this issue


Rural communities in Cambodia protect state land to maintain the supply of forest products

The Community-Based Rural Development Project in Kampong Thom and Kampot is a US$22.8 million project supported by IFAD, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The project has been supporting community forestry (CF) schemes in Kampot Province. To date, five CF schemes comprising 3,000 hectares of forest have been established. They are protected and managed by locally elected CF committees and commune councils.

In Cambodia, rural livelihoods are closely linked with the collection and use of forest products such as wood, fruits and medicinal plants. However, forest areas are rapidly diminishing and those that remain are becoming depleted. This is due to the accelerating pace at which forests are being converted, mainly for land speculation and economic land concessions. The loss of forests has a negative impact on rural communities, many of which rely on their resources.

Since late 2003, the natural resources management (NRM) component of the Community-Based Rural Development Project in Kampong Thom and Kampot has been supporting the establishment of CF schemes. The component is supported by GTZ through technical assistance. It aims to establish legally recognized and independently functioning CF schemes that are coordinated and supported by commune councils through the following activities:

  • democratic elections of local CF management committees
  • participatory identification and demarcation of CF boundaries
  • mapping of the CF areas
  • provision of all legally required documents including regulations for forest use and benefit sharing
  • CF agreement with the Forest Administration (FA)

Community forestry is a management strategy that shifts the rights and duties of protection, management and utilization of state forests from the FA to communities that live near forest areas. It aims to sustain the supply of forest products and services to these communities. The Forest Law and the Sub-Decree on Community Forest Management provide a legal framework for community forestry.


The FA is a governmental institution under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries mandated to manage state forest land. Nevertheless, it is still lacking sufficient capacities to protect and manage Cambodia’s forests. The project helps establish partnerships for forest management between FA and local communities that depend on forests to sustain their livelihoods.


The project followed a participatory approach in identifying available CF land. It involved FA officials, CF committee members, commune councillors, village leaders and local landowners. To date, the following results have been achieved:

  • Five community forests have been established comprising 3,000 hectares of mixed deciduous and evergreen forest.
  • CF schemes are protected and managed by their CF committees and members under supervision of the commune councils.
  • CF schemes are free of illegal claims for private land ownership.
  • Clear demarcation of CF boundaries, using inexpensive metal signboards nailed to red painted boundary trees, made villagers from inside and outside the community aware of the new boundaries and protected status.
  • Communities defined regulations for protecting and using community forests, and for the benefit sharing of the CF members.

Challenges ahead

All established CF schemes are still very young and the early results look promising. Nevertheless, there will be many challenges to sustain this success.  As forest resources become more valuable and more income is generated from selling forest products, there is a potential for internal conflicts in the committees and communities. Moreover, wood will become increasingly scarce, which could trigger increased illegal activities inside the CFs. Several measures could be considered to minimize conflict and potential theft:

  • Register all CF areas, which will make the land less attractive for settlers to encroach upon and for speculators to buy. For state land registration, a new sub-decree provides the legal basis and the required procedures.
  • Strengthen the understanding of communities of their legal rights and capacities to protect and use CF areas and resources.
  • Train CF committees in transparent bookkeeping, administration, legal procedures, forest management and acquisition and management of community funds.

Aernout Theunissen, Natural Resources Management Component, Community-Based Rural Development Project in Kampong Thom and Kampot, GTZ

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Using ‘Lapat’ – an indigenous system – to sustain watershed in the Philippines

Utilizing a century-old practice, indigenous peoples of the northern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines have restored and managed the watershed of the Cordillera Central Mountain range. The Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project, funded by the Asian Development Bank and IFAD, recognized that the ‘Lapat’ system is a viable way to reforest and manage forests and watersheds, and to regulate the use of natural resources.

The Cordillera region in the Philippines is a watershed cradle of the northern part of Luzon Island, and provides water for irrigation, domestic and industrial uses to more than ten lowland provinces. The region also produces about 404 megawatts of electricity per day, making it a major energy supplier on the island.
Over the years, population pressure, agricultural expansion, logging, mining, commercial vegetable production and urbanization have accelerated the destruction of the Cordillera environment.  In 1998, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources estimated that Cordillera forests covered 673.3 hectares, or 37 per cent, of the total land area of the region. This falls short of the ideal 40 percent forest cover set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Restoring and protecting the remaining forest was one of the thrusts of the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project funded by the Asian Development Bank and IFAD, with the Department of Agriculture as a lead agency.  The project adopted a strategy to strengthen the ‘Lapat system’ – a system for managing natural resources that is used among the Tinggian tribe in the Cordillera.

‘Lapat’ literally means ‘to prohibit’ or ‘to regulate’. The system enjoins all community members and neighbouring communities to observe rules for environmental protection. These include refraining from indiscriminately cutting trees, gathering rattan, hunting animals, and even fishing in the rivers and streams within the ‘Lapat’ area. By adopting the ‘Lapat’ system, indigenous communities take over the responsibility, care and management of forests and natural resources.

To date, indigenous peoples in eight municipalities of Abra Province and three municipalities in Apayao Province are practicing the ‘Lapat’ system. These highland municipalities occupy more than 50 per cent of the land area of the two provinces.

Through the IFAD-supported project, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was able to administer tenurial rights, in the form of ‘certificates of ancestral domain title’, to three highland municipalities covering a total area of about 77,000 hectares. The project provided funds and technical assistance in the form of information and education campaigns on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. It also helped mobilize the community and assisted in preparing the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan, which is a major requirement in the issuance of the certificates. The process was expanded to five other municipalities and is now being concluded.

The recognition of tenurial rights of indigenous peoples has strengthened the continuity of the ’Lapat’ system. It has also served as an incentive for people to participate in community development plans and projects.

The experiences of the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project in using an indigenous system to sustain the region’s watershed have led governmental organizations and other stakeholders to examine local technologies and blend them with new and practical ideas for sustainable agriculture and agroforestry systems.                

Robert L. Domoguen, Regional Information Officer, Department of Agriculture, Cordillera Autonomous Region and
Yolando C. Arban, IFAD Country Programme Management Facilitator, the Philippines

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IFAD’s 15 years of forestry experience in Nepal

IFAD’s involvement in the forestry sector in Nepal started with the concept of ‘leasehold forestry for the poor people’, which was developed through the Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project (1993-2003). The thrust was to lease degraded forestlands to poor communities for 40 years. The leases are renewable upon satisfactory adherence to agreed operational plans. There is no lease fee and leaseholders have exclusive rights to the produce of the land. This initiative triggered the inclusion of the leasehold concept into the Forest Act (1993) and Forest Rules (1995) in Nepal, and finally resulted in the formulation of the Leasehold Forestry Policy in 2002.  

Following the success of the Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project supported by IFAD, the Government of Nepal requested IFAD to support the second phase of the project. This was during the period when Leasehold Forestry Policy was under discussion. IFAD responded by fielding an interim evaluation, which concluded that transferring degraded forestlands to poor people has been conducive to reducing poverty and reforesting the hills. This resulted in the design of the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Project and its implementation, which began in 2005.

Annual reports of the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme and the Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project reveal that by mid-July 2007 about 25,843 households had been formed into 3,706 leasehold forest user groups that have access to 17,254 hectares of forest land. In Nepal, the concept of leasehold has been instrumental in achieving a sustained reduction in poverty for households and in increasing the ground coverage of degraded lands. Other donor agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UK Department for International Development have started to extend their support to the Government of Nepal in implementing the leasehold forestry programme.

The supervision mission from 2006 reported the following achievements:

  • The project supplied fodder and grass seeds to leasehold forestry groups, which led to increased green cover of their forestry plots. This intervention has resulted in:
    • substantial reduction in the time women spend collecting forage
    • more time for women to undertake other productive activities including childcare
    • forage becoming available even during the dry season
    • improved water availability due to increased green coverage.
  • The income of the members of leasehold forestry groups ranges from NR 5,000 to 15,000 (US$78 to 234) per year. Households diversify their revenue stream, for example, by cultivating broom-grass.
  • The allocated degraded forest and unproductive land have been converted into productive land. The green cover has decreased soil erosion and landslides and increased the availability of groundwater during the dry season for irrigation and drinking.
  • The improved breeding bucks provided under the project are also used to service goats owned by non-members. This has resulted in improving the breed and productivity of local goats.

Bashu Babu Aryal, Field Presence Officer, Nepal

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Cultivating non-timber forest products to generate income in Nepal 

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs), particularly medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), have enormous potential as an income-generating option for poor smallholders living in high altitudes of Western Nepal. Nepal is already competitive in the sector, but raw materials are currently collected from the wild, often in intensely unsustainable ways. To address the conservation and sustainable management of such resources and to safeguard livelihood opportunities of farmers, it is crucial to encourage the domestication and cultivation of potential NTFPs. In Nepal, IFAD supports such activities in some of its projects and programmes.

IFAD has supported several projects in the uplands and mountains of Nepal, promoting the leasehold forestry approach. The approach is based on transferring sections of degraded forest to the poorest and most marginalized households on renewable 40-year leases. Leasehold forestry plots are mostly situated on slopes that are vulnerable to erosion. IFAD projects supported households in growing forage and forestry species in their plots.

One example is the Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project, which piloted demonstrations on the domestication and promotion of NTFPs. IFAD also provided grant resources to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to implement the programme titled Securing Livelihoods in Uplands and Mountains of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, 2000-2005.  The programme focused on growing medicinal plants in leasehold plots to supplement income generation.

Performance trials: the selection of species

As a first step, the programme conducted performance trials to select appropriate species.  A private pharmaceutical firm – Dabur-Nepal – participated in the selection process, and two pilot demonstration sites and seven species were selected for the trials. Of these seven species, Dabur-Nepal recommended five species for promotion and cultivation in two sites.

Building capacity to promote domestication of NTFPs

After the performance trials were completed, the programme had to build  the capacity of members of leasehold forestry user groups (LFUGs), personnel of the line department and members of the project team to promote and sustain domestication. ICIMOD provided a technical consultant to conduct training in the concept of leasehold forestry, development of leased land, establishment and management of nurseries, and sustainable harvesting and management of NTFPs. Fifty five people were trained, including 15 women.

These efforts led to the following positive results:

  • The experimental trials pinpointed potential species that could be grown in different locations.
  • The trials demonstrated an institutional model for fostering the participation of the private sector in livelihood security initiatives – a model which can be replicated.
  • Out of the 12 nursery operators the programme trained, two are involved in operating special nurseries run by the District Forest Office. These nurseries produce seedlings in low temperatures and harden them before they are transported.
  • The other ten operators became responsible for operating village nurseries.

Replicating demonstrations for domestication of NTFPs on leasehold plots

Pilot demonstrations for domestication of MAPs were initiated on leasehold plots in two districts in April 2006. Encouraging results led to the programme scaling up the demonstrations to two more districts in 2007. The scaling up also resulted in a diversification of domesticated species.

To promote NTFP cultivation, it is fundamental to identify potential leasehold plots that have a reliable source for irrigation nearby. The Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project identified such plots – 199 hectares in Jumla and 192 hectares in Humla.

In Jumla, the project has prepared irrigation schemes to cover 41 hectares of leasehold plots and  brought 5.55 hectares under NTFP domestication. In Humla, the project has managed irrigation for 72 hectares of leasehold plots and 5 hectares have already been brought under NTFP domestication. By July 2007, a total of 19.45 hectares of lease land had been brought under NTFP domestication, benefiting 373 households. The project plans to scale up the domestication of NTFPs to 47 hectares of leasehold plots. To support the expansion efforts, the project has planned 22 irrigation schemes for lease land, to be completed by mid-July 2008. The project also plans to cover new districts for piloting demonstrations and to introduce the Sloping Agriculture Land Technology.

Private-sector partnership

As efforts for scaling up progressed, the programme felt the need to forge more effective partnerships with the private sector. ICIMOD initiated discussions with private firms operating in the NTFP and MAP sector, and has initiated an agreement with Male International. Once signed, Male International will provide technical support and capacity building to project LFUGs, and will market certified organic MAPs from project districts.

In addition to the leasehold plots recommended by Dabur-Nepal, NTFPs were occurring naturally in leasehold plots of other districts, which need to be surveyed – in particular over 5,200 hectares of land handed over to LFUGs consisting poor households (especially women headed), dalits and landless people under the IFAD-supported WUPAP project in Bajhang, Bajura, Humla and Jumla.

The results are encouraging and suggest the availability of several naturally occurring NTFPs.

Lessons learned

The potential of NTFPs, particularly MAPs, as an income-generating option for poor people is too early to judge as the first harvests will begin in 2009. Nevertheless, leasehold plot surveys have shown that:

  • Many species demanded in the market occur naturally in the plots. Hence, performance trials for such species are redundant.
  • The selection of species should be based on natural occurrence and market demand. This would address conservation needs and promote domestication of such species.
  • Species found in an area would be adapted to local micro-environmental parameters and hence perform better than exotics.
  • Natural occurrence of NTFPs may potentially ensure better quality and consistency of active ingredients compared to introduced species. This would assure a competitive edge for the products in markets.
  • Surveys and inventories followed by quality assessments of samples from the field are essential pre-requisites to domestication, since the assessments strengthen assured price and marketing power.

Interactions with LFUG members reveal that many of them have in-depth knowledge about different aspects of naturally occurring NTFPs. They could provide training to other members and should also participate in promotional and scaling-up exercises in the future. Their efforts should be complemented by the involvement of traditional medicinal practitioners.

Marketing strategies are important. Participation of the private sector alone is not sufficient to promote the NTFP sector. LFUGs should be organized into federations for collective marketing. To make attract private-sector partnership and increase LFUG bargaining power, it is necessary for products to be collected at designated collection centres to ensure economically viable volumes.

There is a risk that dependency on the private sector for the selection of species may result in species that do not have attributes desirable by the community. For example, experience from the piloting has shown that species recommended by the private-sector partner may have a long gestation period. There is also  uncertainty about the quality of the final product. Dependency may also minimize diversification, which is an important risk aversion strategy.

Sanjeev Kumar Shrestha, NTFP & Marketing Specialist, Western Upland Poverty Alleviation Project, Nepal
Bashu Babu Aryal, Field Presence Officer, Nepal
Eklabya Sharma, Programme Manager and Dhrupad Choudhury, Programme Coordinator, ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal

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Community-based forest enterprises in Nepal

IFAD provided a technical assistance grant to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to conduct studies on how to further increase the benefits from forests to poor communities living in and around forests. One of the studies examined the best practices of community-based forest enterprises (CBFEs) in Nepal. CBFEs include enterprises owned by forest user groups, including leasehold forestry user groups of an IFAD-supported forestry programme. The study demonstrated whether and how CBFEs generate income, ensure equitable distribution of income, and sustain the availability of forest products.

Income generation

Networking and registering as cooperatives or companies
Forest user groups were constrained by their limited capital or the number of members. Forming larger organizations enabled them to reach a viable level of production and to bargain for higher prices. At the same time, registering the forest user groups as formal business organizations (for example, cooperatives or companies) allowed them to transact with other formal organizations, including larger buyers and service providers. Networking among forest user groups and registering them into formal business organizations need to be encouraged.

Cultivating and processing forest products
Since forest products have low value and are in limited supply, enterprises wanting to expand must consider other opportunities to add value, such as, cultivating, processing and contract marketing.

Equity and income distribution

Targeting the poorest
To promote more equitable distribution of benefits from forests, some CBFEs granted privileges to their poorest members, such as becoming factory labourers or exclusive collectors of forest products.

Allocating shares
Some forest user groups that registered as cooperatives or private companies included poor people by enabling them to purchase capital shares.

The study also found that most of the practices promoting equity within the CBFEs were due to the policies of external support providers that encouraged such practices.

Resource sustainability

Estimating sustainable harvest levels and regulating collection
Some CBFEs tried to maintain a sustainable supply of raw forest products by estimating and setting levels to guide how much they should harvest in a season, and by implementing and strictly enforcing rules for collecting forest products.

Chetan Kumar, Project Coordinator, Center for International Forestry Research

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Tribal rights and Indian forests

Despite inhabiting India’s richest lands, tribal communities of central India are the poorest and most marginalized in the country. This is mostly because they are treated as thieves and encroachers in their ancestral lands. Large tribal areas have been declared state forests through blanket notifications without the legally required settlement of ancestral tribal land and forest rights. Restoration of the rights of tribal people should remove a major cause of their poverty.

Today, 74 per cent of the land in Orissa’s Schedule V (tribal-dominated) area belongs to the government, while many tribal people officially own no land. In the absence of recognized rights, tribal people have been displaced with impunity to make room for industry, mining and dams. While tribal people constitute only 8 per cent of the country’s population, they constitute over 40 per cent of those displaced by large development projects. Only a fraction of the displaced tribal people have been compensated or provided with an alternative place to live. The vast majority have been left to fend for themselves.

Those inhabiting forest lands are regarded as encroachers and are therefore deprived of access to basic social welfare services. They also live under the constant threat of being evicted, or being penalized for collecting forest products from their ancestral lands. Thousands of tribal people are languishing in jails for petty offences such as collecting firewood or NTFPs.

This occurs despite the constitutional requirement for the government to provide special protection to tribal areas to safeguard tribal lifestyles, cultures and traditional governance institutions. The State Governor, on the advice of the Tribes Advisory Council, is empowered to withhold the application of any law considered detrimental to tribal interests in Schedule V areas. Under this provision, the four major laws responsible for depriving tribal people of their land and forest resources (the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Land Acquisition Act, 1894) could have been made non-applicable to Schedule V areas. Instead, they have been enforced in these areas with a vengeance.

In contrast, areas under Schedule VI (tribal majority areas that are given greater autonomy in self-governance) of the Constitution (confined to the states of Meghalaya, Mizoram and parts of Assam and Tripura in the northeast) are in a far better position. Local communities in these areas continue to own and manage most of their land and forests, and rank much higher in their socio-economic status and human development indices. Unlike in the tribal areas of eastern and central India, death from starvation or malnutrition is not prevalent in these northeastern states.

The campaign for the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was triggered by large-scale, often brutal, evictions of impoverished forest dwellers from forest lands, ordered by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in May 2002. As stated in its preamble, the Act aims to undo the historical injustice to tribal communities by recognizing their individual and community land and forest rights. Tenurial and resource security should remove a major cause of their poverty and disempowerment while giving them a stake in conservation and sustainable forest management.

Madhu Sarin, independent professional, India

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Community-based tourism raises income and environmental awareness among Himalayan people

Communities in the scenic Himalayan foothills are overlooked by tourism programmes and lack economic resources to participate. Villagers migrate to towns for employment, adversely affecting local traditions and social structures, and changing the rural environment. The concept of Village Ways represents a unique combination of commerce and development to benefit villages located in and around the forested slopes of the Binsar Sanctuary in the state of Uttaranchal in India.

The concept of Village Ways was created during rural development work and trekking in Uttaranchal, and evolved during the formulation of the Livelihood Improvement Project for the Himalayas supported by IFAD. Village Ways was established in 2005 as a private company to invest in guesthouses owned and managed by community members and linked to a quality hotel. The purpose was to enable guests to walk between villages, stay in guest houses and interact with the local communities.

Village Ways motivated community tourism committees by offering them grants, loans and training to build and manage a comfortable, traditional-style guesthouse, located near a private hotel in each of the five villages. The company promotes holidays to international clients interested in walking and experiencing traditional village life. In turn, the committees receive direct payments for each night that a visitor stays in the guesthouses. The payments are a new source of income that finances loan repayments, maintenance of guesthouses and village development. The guesthouses employ local people as guides and porters, which further increases their incomes and reduces their economic vulnerability. The guesthouses also train the guides in local ecology, which promotes a better understanding of environmental issues by locals and tourists.

The villagers are enthusiastic and out-migration has already decreased. Guests have given positive feedback and appreciate being able to interact with villagers. Moreover, the Forest Department, which manages the Binsar Sanctuary, reports improved relationships with villagers and reduced timber smuggling and game poaching.

Success has depended on four key factors:  

  • Village tourism committees are dedicated to building, managing and maintaining the guesthouses.
  • A quality host hotel receives guests and closely monitors standards of the guesthouses.
  • Local villagers are trained as guides, who explain ecology and traditional culture.
  • A team of rural tourism professionals developed an international marketing and reservation system and a database of guests.

Village Ways is a sustainable form of tourism that builds on local resources. It provides economic and social benefits for participating communities and raises their environmental awareness.

The IFAD-supported Livelihood Improvement Project for the Himalayas (in Uttaranchal) has an eco-tourism component. The project and Village Ways are currently discussing collaborating to expand the activities of Village Ways into project villages. Expansion will be facilitated through funding to communities provided by the project’s Social Venture Capital Company.

Keith Virgo, Director, Village Ways, formerly IFAD consultant for the Livelihood Improvement Project for the Himalayas

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International conference seeks action for the world’s poorest people

From October 17-19, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China held the international conference, “Taking Action for the World’s Poor and Hungry People” in Beijing. The conference brought together experts from around the world to explore new and different actions for improving the welfare of the world’s most deprived people. IFAD is a key player in this mission, not only in Asia and the Pacific, but worldwide. President Lennart Båge shared some of IFAD’s experiences in his address during the conference’s opening ceremony.

The conference comes at the halfway point between the declaration and deadline of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halve the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day and suffering from hunger by 2015. More than 200 nations around the world committed to attain this goal. Although the goal may be achieved at the global level, it will not be met in some regions and countries –an estimated 700 million people will remain extremely poor in 2015, and about 600 million people will go hungry, unless new actions are taken.

The world’s poorest people live in remote areas, far removed from roads, and health and education facilities. Ethnic minorities, women, and those with disabilities particularly face exclusion from such essential services. As a result, the poverty rates among these groups are startling, a point emphasized by Båge during his presentation. “There are an estimated 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide.” he said. “They comprise 5 per cent of the world’s population, but represent 15 per cent of the world’s poor.” 

Without more targeted efforts, the poorest of the poor will continue to suffer. As emphasized at the conference, new strategies are required to reach these people. In his speech, Båge applauded the progress that has been made so far, but stressed, “We need to build further on the principle of ‘development with identity,’ which recognizes that cultural distinctiveness is part and parcel of the development capacities of each people.”

Brianna Phillips, Communications Division, International Food Policy Research Institute 

Read more about the conference, including policy briefs, programme and video and audio recordings of speaker

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IFAD and its project representatives in Asia and the Pacific meet again to review their performance, and share their experiences, knowledge and innovations

IFAD’s Asia and the Pacific Division, in collaboration with the Government of Thailand, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) Regional Bureau for Asia, and the International Centre for Development Research (IDRC) held an Annual Performance Review Workshop in Bangkok from 12 to 15 November 2007. The theme of this year’s event was ‘A new approach to country programme implementation support’.  Participants were also able to exchange their knowledge on innovations in rural development and climate change.

The Annual Performance Review Workshop provided an exciting opportunity for all 124 participants from the Asia and the Pacific region to discuss important project design and  implementation issues, with a view of enhancing country programme performance. The workshop was also an opportunity to discuss new IFAD’s processes regarding supervision and implementation support.

The event was an opportunity to build relationships with peers as a basis for networking to continue sharing good practices, knowledge and experiences.

The ‘Knowledge Sharing Day’ organized by ENRAP (Knowledge Networking for Rural Development in Asia/Pacific Region) – an IFAD-funded initiative to support networking and knowledge sharing among its rural development projects – started the workshop. By using creative problem-solving techniques, participants were able to discuss the current supervision and implementation support arrangements and suggest solutions to problems faced in different countries.

The ‘Knowledge Market on Innovation’ focused on sharing successful innovative approaches in rural development. There were 18 displays from seven countries showing innovative approaches and technologies, clustered according to different themes such as health and education, natural resource management, infrastructure, microcredit, targeting and public-private partnership. Countries also displayed products made by beneficiaries.

The ‘Knowledge Event on Climate Change’ was a special event in which participants brainstormed about the risks and threats that climate change posed to projects and countries. The brainstorming session demonstrated that participants are deeply concerned about climate change and its effects on agricultural and food security, health and nutrition. Participants made suggestions on possible adaptation and mitigation strategies that could be deployed in their projects to address the impact of climate change. As a follow-up to this event, participants can discuss the climate change issues and actions through the ENRAP mailing list (

Martina Spisiakova, Newsletter Coordinator, Asia and the Pacific Division, IFAD

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Occasional papers

Issue 4: Supermarkets, smallholders and livelihood prospects in selected Asian countries

Food consumption patterns have been changing rapidly in the Asia and the Pacific region in recent years. This is due to factors such as rising incomes, urbanization, increasing employment opportunities for women in the formal sector and globalization. As a result, people are eating fewer staple cereals and more high-value commodities such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products, fish, meat and eggs.

Agricultural diversification has increased to meet the demand for these commodities. This has led to a change in the traditional supply chain for the production, processing, marketing and distribution of agricultural commodities. Innovative institutional models are emerging in agribusinesses to develop more efficient and value-added supply chains.

These new value chains include fewer participants, but involve a high degree of coordination and integration among different players. Supermarkets have emerged rapidly in many countries to link producers and consumers, and they have become major markets for middle-income consumers. A key challenge is to promote the participation of smallholders in emerging market opportunities by addressing the constraints smallholders face.

This paper first analyses the difficulties and comparative advantages of smallholders in supplying high-value agricultural commodities to supermarkets. It presents an econometric analysis of factors influencing the expansion of supermarkets: per capita incomes, women’s participation rates, income inequality, urbanization and the openness of the economy. It concludes that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the growth of supermarkets and dramatic changes in the food supply chain will not lead to the demise of smallholders if appropriate measures are taken to address the constraints they face. It further argues that smallholder participation in supermarkets can be promoted through mutually beneficial partnerships between supermarkets and smallholders and by policies that protect the economic interests of smallholders. Finally, the paper identifies measures to promote public-private partnerships so that smallholders may benefit from supermarket expansion in Asian countries.
Raghav Gaiha, Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi, and Ganesh Thapa, Asia and the Pacific Division, IFAD Read occasional paper

For more information, please contact Valentina Camaleonte, Asia and the Pacific Division, IFAD, Tel: +39 06/54592670

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Recent publications produced by Asia and the Pacific grant programmes

The Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC) and the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) recently issued two new publications as part of an almost four-year collaboration.  The publications are the final products of ‘Strengthening Capacities of Organizations of the Poor: Experiences in Asia’ – a project funded by an IFAD grant which is now closing.

 The first publication, ‘TIPS (Tools, Insights and Practices)’, is a collection of articles that draw from the experience of civil society organizations and projects in Asia on building rural poor organizations (RPOs). It is written for development practitioners and aims to encourage innovation and effective practices in organizing and strengthening RPOs.

The second publication, ‘Insights and Lessons on Strengthening RPOs in Asia: SCOPE Experience’, documents the past year’s experience in working on the  challenges of building self-sustaining organizations of poor people.

The publications can be accessed at the following links:

For more information about this publication, please contact Carla De Gregorio, Grants Coordinator, Asia and the Pacific Division, IFAD, or Nathaniel Don Marquez, Executive Director, ANGOC

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Recent events

IFAD’s Executive Board, 11-13 December 2007, Rome

The following projects and programmes for Asia and the Pacific were approved by IFAD’s Executive Board:

Bangladesh: National Agricultural Technology Project
Cambodia: Country Strategic Opportunities Programme
China: Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Rural Advancement Programme
Nepal: Nepal Poverty Alleviation Fund II Project and Skills Enhancement for Employment Project in Nepal
Viet Nam: Developing Business with the Rural Poor Programme

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Martina Spisiakova
Tel: 3906-54592295

Making a Difference in Asia and the Pacific

Issue 17: September-October 2007

Issue 16: June-July 2007
Managing risks and reducing vulnerability to natural hazards

Issue 15:
March/April 2007

Energy for sustainable development

Issue 14: January/February 2007 - Sustainable natural resource management

Issue 13: November/December 2006 - PBAS: looking beyond the resource allocation system

Issue 12: September/October 2006 - Communication for poverty reduction and rural development

Issue 11: July/August 2006 - Working with UN agencies at the country level

Issue 10: May/June 2006 - Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities

Issue 9: March/April 2006 - Access to land

Issue 8: January/February 2006 - Agricultural Technology Management

Issue 7: November/December 2005 - Pro-poor policies

Issue 6: September/October 2005 - Gender & MDGs

Issue 5: July/August 2005 - Partnership

Issue 4: May/June 2005 - Rural Finance

Issue 3: March/ April 2005 - Donor Harmonization

Issue 2: January/ February 2005

Issue 1: November/ December 2004

Upcoming events and missions:


Steering committee – IFAD grant titled ‘Rehabilitation of agricultural livelihoods of women in marginal and post-conflict areas of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan: participatory research, dissemination and adoption of improved dairy goat production systems’ to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, 15-17 December 2007, Aleppo, Syria


Start-up mission – Finance for Enterprise Development and Employment Creation (FEDEC) Project, January – February 2008

Follow-up supervision mission – Market Infrastructure Development Project in Charlands Regions, January – February 2008

Supervision mission – Sunamganj Community-Based Resource Management Project, January-February 2008


Appraisal mission – Mitigating Poverty in Western Rajasthan, January-February 2008

Pre-formulation mission – West Bengal Coastal Area Development Project, January-March 2008

Country portfolio review – Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme, February 2008


Appraisal mission – National Programme for Community Empowerment, December 2007 – January 2008


Implementation support – Post-Tsunami Agricultural and Fisheries Rehabilitation Programme, January 2008


Supervision mission – Microfinance Innovation and Outreach Programme, January 2007


Interim evaluation workshop – Western Mindanao Community Initiatives Project, 17 December 2007, Manila

High-level meeting – Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP), January 2008, Manila

Inception mission – Comprehensive Highland Agriculture Resource Management Project, January-February 2008

Sri Lanka

Inception mission – National Agribusiness Development Programme, 3 December 2007 – 5 January 2008

Start-up workshop – Smallholder Plantations Entrepreneurship Development Programme, January 2008



About IFAD

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in developing countries. Its work in remote rural areas of the world helps countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Through low-interest loans and grants, IFAD develops and finances projects that enable rural poor people to overcome poverty themselves.

IFAD tackles poverty not just as a lender, but as an advocate for the small farmers, herders, fisherfolk, landless workers, artisans and indigenous peoples who live in rural areas and represent 75 per cent of the world's 1.2 billion extremely poor people. IFAD works with governments, donors, non-governmental organizations, local communities and many other partners to fight the underlying causes of rural poverty. It acts as a catalyst, bringing together partners, resources, knowledge and policies that create the conditions in which rural poor people can increase agricultural productivity, as well as seek out other options for earning income.

IFAD-supported rural development programmes and projects increase rural poor people's access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources.

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