VIENTIANE, Lao PDR – The Lao PDR research team for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded project, Agricultural Transformation and Market Integration in the ASEAN Region: Responding to Food Security and Inclusiveness Concerns (ATMI-ASEAN), presented the current progress and preliminary findings of their policy study entitled Cross-border Maize Value Chain Analysis in Xiengkhuang Province during the 2nd Lao PDR National Project Steering Committee (NPSC) Meeting held on 31 July 2019 at Vansana Riverside Hotel here.
The Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF-DOA), the focal agency for Lao PDR of the ATMI-ASEAN Project, co-organized the meeting with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). SEARCA is the implementing partner of the project with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) as lead.
The meeting was chaired by Mr. Chantha Thipphavongphanh, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Agriculture (DOA), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). In his Welcome Remarks, he said that, in support of Lao government's priority given to food security and commodity production, MAF-DOA is providing policy and technical support for implementation of programs on macro-management, plant protection and quarantine, clean agriculture, agriculture inputs management, and investment in crop production. He acknowledged the importance of the ATMI-ASEAN Project and its initiatives in promoting food security in Lao PDR and in the ASEAN region. He added that the discussion that will follow the presentation of the preliminary findings of the study will hopefully make the study more informative and useful for policymakers in the country.
On the other hand, Mr. Soulivanh Pattivong, Country Programme Officer of IFAD Lao PDR, highlighted IFAD's contribution to agricultural and rural development and poverty reduction in the country under its Strategic Country Programme for Lao PDR 2019-2021 and 2021-2025.
Dr. Silinthone Sacklokham, Director of the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Community Education Development, and Associate Professor of the Faculty of Agriculture of the National University of Laos (NUOL), leads the research team of the policy study on maize value chain. She was joined by fellow researchers Ms. Chitpasong Kousonsavath, Head of Rural Economic and Food Technology Department of NUOL, and Dr. Phonevilay Sinavong of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), both of whom presented the current status of implementation as per the agreed plan of study in the first NPSC meeting conducted in November 2018.
Mr. Jimmy B. Williams, ATMI-ASEAN Project Support Unit Coordinator, facilitated the open discussion that followed the research team's presentation. Representatives from several departments of MAF – DOA, Department of Planning and Finance, Department of Policy and Legal Affairs, Department of Technical Extension and Agri-Processing, and NAFRI – participated in the discussion. The participants gave their feedback on the findings and suggested other information that may be relevant to the study. Mr. Williams also shared with the NPSC the forthcoming events, including the proposed technical assistance activities of the project in Lao PDR.