Source: Vientiane Times, November 16, 2017
Laos and other countries located along the Mekong River will assess the challenges of large-scale agricultural investments to find better solutions for sustainable development and boost economic growth in the region.
Representatives of the government, private sector, research institutions and civil society across the Mekong countries, including China, are joining international organisations and partners at a regional workshop in Vientiane to explore the challenges of agricultural investments.
The exercise will enable them to suggest solutions that support sustainable and pro-poor development as well as economic growth.
The three-day workshop will also examine how to improve national regulatory frameworks and agreements between private investors and communities.
The event brings together all these partners to present and share their experiences and results, to learn from each other, and to discuss how they can improve linkages, cooperation and synergies at the regional level.
The workshop also offers a space for other stakeholders who are not direct partners of Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) to bring their perspective from the national, regional or global levels.
The regional workshop on Responsible Large Scale Agriculture Investments in the Mekong Region is being hosted by the MRLG in collaboration with the Investment Promotion Department under the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Land grants for agro-industrial concessions are not new and can be traced back the colonial era. But since the 1990s, a wave of large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural investments has re-emerged worldwide, 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 agriculture at unprecedented levels in the Mekong region.
However, the benefits from large-scale agricultural investments, including income generation, modernisation and productivity boosts, and increased government revenues, have been disappointing.
More often, the result has been social and environmental impacts that are problematic for communities, the investors and the government.
The government, investors, and development organisations have been directing their efforts towards designing and implementing mechanisms that protect small farmers and promote more responsible agro-industrial investments.
The workshop will produce recommendations for alternative approaches to agricultural development and for making investments more inclusive for small farmers.
MRLG is a project of the government of Switzerland, implemented through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) with co-financing from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Government of Luxembourg.