Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Ministry to closely monitor agri-business

Vientiane Times, February 7, 2017.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will this year closely monitor domestic and foreign investment in this sector as it believes that many companies have not implemented the agreements made or complied with stipulated feasibility study methods.The ministry will strictly apply management measures to investors and companies that have made no progress with their proposed projects or had an adverse impact on local communities and the environment.However, the ministry has not revealed the numbers and names of the companies concerned, the ministry reported at its annual meeting in Vientiane at the end of last year.Last year, 733 domestic and foreign companies agreed to invest in the agriculture and forestry sector in Laos with total investment of US$3.55 billion while US$1.74 billion of registered funding was allocated to land concessions on about 467,980 hectares.

Some 107 companies invested in livestock projects with funding of US$338.88 million, 345 companies invested in agriculture with funding of about US$1.22 billion, 232 companies invested in tree plantations with funding of about US$1.96 billion, and 49 companies ploughed US$34 million into service sector projects.

Many projects made good progress and benefited local people, making an important contribution to socio-economic development, especially the growth of agriculture and forestry.

But many schemes are implemented by private companies for their own advantage, with little monitoring carried out by the relevant sectors.

The agriculture and forestry sector continues to be one of the main contributors to rural poverty reduction as well as to socio-economic development.

Last year the sector grew by about 3 percent, accounting for 23.3 percent of GDP, while this year the government plans to grow it by 3.1 percent and account for 18.8 percent of GDP.

To ensure the sector grows sustainably and can produce sufficient food for domestic supply and export, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will continue to be responsible for the implementation of various activities.

The ministry, in cooperation with the relevant government sectors and local authorities, will focus on priority work and policies for rice production and commercial crops, as well as the production of livestock and aquatic life.

The ministry also plans to acquire more funding from foreign countries for use in infrastructure, foodstuff production, commercial product promotion, sustainable forest management, rural development, and poverty eradication.The ministry expects its expenditure this year will be US$128 million, an increase of about 30 percent over last year.

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