Lao GAP- Another Step Forward for Agriculture Certification in Lao PDR
Lao PDR has launched the national good agricultural practice or Lao GAP for fruits and vegetables which is in harmony with the ASEAN GAP. The move aims to strengthen competitiveness of farmers and small holders in fresh fruit and vegetable business in Lao PDR. The “Strengthening National GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) in Lao PDR” project under that Lao-Thai-German Trilateral Cooperation has, in part, provided support to establish the good agricultural practices standard (Lao GAP) for the past 2 years
(May 2012-April 2014). The key project implementer, the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR receives technical support from the Department of Agriculture and the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), Thailand. Administrative and implementation support was provided by Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand and GIZ.
Trade Situation on Fruit and Vegetables in Lao PDR
It is widely known that ASEAN member countries are hastily preparing themselves in every dimension to join the ASEAN Common Market in 2015. Lao PDR is facing an important challenge on agricultural product development:
the lack of good agricultural practices (GAP) standard that is in harmony with the ASEAN GAP, which will become the standard for intraregional fruit and vegetable trade in 2015. This will affect the potential and competitiveness of Lao farmers and small holders in fresh fruit and vegetable business because they will not be able to respond to
the needs of both local and international consumers.
What is ASEAN GAP?
ASEAN GAP is the good agricultural practices (GAP) standard established to improve and standardize the production of fruit and vegetables in ASEAN member states. The standard is used for intraregional and interregional trade
ASEAN GAP covers 4 key aspects:
• Food safety
• Environmental impacts
• Workers’ health, safety and welfare
• Produce quality
The “Strengthening National GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) in Lao PDR” project aims to strengthen the competitiveness of farmers and small holders in fresh fruit and vegetable business and respond to market needs through the establishment of the good agricultural practices standard (Lao GAP), preparing Lao PDR for the ASEAN Economic community (AEC).
The project has support the Department of Agriculture, Lao PDR to
1. Establish the structure and management of Lao Certification Body (LCB) based on the international standard ISO/IEC17065. The main role of LCB is to inspect and certify that the agricultural production meets the Lao GAP standard.
2. Develop Lao GAP Standard and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for fresh fruit and vegetables that are in harmony with the ASEAN GAP. The standard and SOP were officially launched by the Department of Agriculture in 2013.
3. Strengthen the capacity of personnel and relevant authorities, enhance their knowledge, competency and provide training to improve skills and expertise, empowering them to become inspectors/auditors for the Lao GAP certification. Currently there are 15 trained and qualified inspectors/auditors for the process.
4. Establish service structure and disseminate knowledge and information on Lao GAP to facilitate access to the certification process for farmers and small holders in fruit and vegetable business; starting from certification application, promoting compliance to Lao GAP in the farm, regulation and procedures on farm inspection and certification and the application of Lao GAP logo on certified produce for trade and export
More than 2 years of joint effort of the Department of Agriculture, officers, auditors and relevant private agencies, to develop the Lao GAP, Lao PDR is now ready to inspesct and certify agricultural products. Currently 2 pilot farmer groups and 1 individual farm have been certified. As a result, more certified fruit and vegetables are available in the market. Moreover, another 10 farmer groups, consisting of about 200 members have volunteered to become pilot farmers, adopting the Lao GAP. They are in the inspection and certification application process. The Lao government has vowed to improve agricultural production to meet the requirements of the Lao GAP and constantly improve the certification system. Moreover, the government has developed a plan to publicize the Lao GAP to farmers, interested individuals, consumers and the public at large.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————– A Workshop to Introduce Lao GAP Awarded Products
On 28 May 2014, Department of Agriculture, Lao PDR, Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) and GIZ ointly hosted a workshop to
disseminate information on Lao GAP certified fresh fruit and vegetable in Lao PDR to policy makers, relevant authorities and representative of private agencies and business operators who are keen on trading Lao GAP products. The event took place at Rashmi’s the Plaza, Vientiane. Information on situation analysis, production capacity, readiness of the certification process, technical advices on marketing, trade and investment policy in Lao PDR was presented. Moreover, the workshop facilitated business negotiation on Lao GAP produce between Thai and Lao producers. More than 70 Thai and Lao businesspeople, interested individuals and Thai and Lao media representatives attended the workshop. This is a good starting point for the Lao GAP publicity campaign to increase awareness of the public. Meanwhile the workshop provided opportunity for interactions among businesspeople, academicians, government officials, farmers and middlemen, facilitating future business negotiations and partnerships.
The workshop demonstrated that Lao business operators are keen to expand their business and increase the production of Lao GAP certified produces to local and international markets. Moreover, they are ready to form partnerships with both Thai and Lao investors. Similarly, Thai business operators realize the business potential and are keen to conduct business with Lao PDR by purchasing produce from Lao farmers or developing joint ventures. The Lao government has also expressed the determination to promote business expansion and policy to facilitate production and trade of Lao GAP certified fruit and vegetables. This is a good sign for the future of agricultural development in Lao PDR. Willingness of stakeholders to promote and strengthen the Lao GAP standard and certified produce will continuously upgrading the production process.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Lao GAP Certified Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exhibition and Fare
In May 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR, JICA, TICA and GIZ held a “Lao GAP Certified Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exhibition and Fare” to officially launch the Lao GAP standard and certified produce. Dr. Phet Phomphiphak, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR and Dr. Boontawee Sisupanthong, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, chaired the event attended by 200 participants. The event took place at Lao GAP Conference Center and Demonstration Plots, Clean Agricultural Development Center, Vientiane District
‘We have to adapt ourselves to changes in the age of globalization. We have to enhance competitiveness and walk at the forefront along with the global community…The success of the Lao GAP project under the Trilateral Cooperation Programme has shown that friendship, determination and collaboration from project partners to achieve the implementation goal had generated tangible results. This is a part of fostering the ASEAN Spirit, according to the motto of “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”’ -Ms Angsana Sihapitak, Deputy Director of Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA)
The benefits of having Lao GAP in place are
1. Better health and safety for farmers because they are not exposed to hazardous chemicals,
2. Good environmental conditions, no chemical residues, no harm for animals in the vicinity of the farm and
3. Better crop weight
– Mr. Somvang Inthawong, Chairperson of Phonehong Agricultural Association
The fare program included a ceremony, chaired by the Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Lao PDR, to award the first 3 Lao GAP certificates to first group of farmers. There were exhibits on Lao GAP and, officially for the first time, display and sale of Lao GAP certified produce to executives and staff of relevant public and private agencies and general public. A panel discussion on “Sharing Experienceson Lao GAP Certified Farm” to share knowledge and experiences on how to comply with Lao GAP in the farm was held. Members of the panel discussion were representatives of farmer groups, Department of Agriculture and Clean Agricultural Center, Lao PDR and the Department of Agriculture, Thailand. To provide information and technical advices and to demonstrate on how to apply for the Lao GAP certification, farm inspection, farm practices; demonstration on farm inspection was conducted in a pilot farm by representatives of farmer groups, farm advisors and inspectors for more than 100 interested farmers and individuals. The information on Lao GAP and guidelines provided has created a strong interested among farmers and relevant agencies. Evidently, they are very keen and ready to respond to the Lao government’s policy on agricultural development, which aims to equally benefit farmers, small holders and consumers.
The “Strengthening Cooperatives and SMEs in Central Vietnam Project” under Thai-German Trilateral Cooperation supported 12 pilot cooperatives in their strategic and business planning during May-June 2014. A series of training sessions and participatory workshops with pilot cooperatives in rural areas of central Vietnam were conducted with the main technical inputs coming from the Thailand Cooperative Promotion Department (CPD) and GIZ. The activity aimed to strengthen the performance of the cooperatives through systematic and participatory analysis and planning involving cooperative management staff, member representatives and relevant cooperative promotion officers Appointed working groups consisting of cooperative promotion officers from VCA and PCA were accompanied by two very experienced Thai experts from CPD for the workshops with the first 4 cooperatives in May 2014. During the whole of June, the working groups carried out the workshops with the rest of the pilot cooperatives by themselves, using lessons learned from the first 4 workshops conducted by the Thai experts. Ultimately, 12 pilot cooperatives were supported through this participatory and systematic process, which is very new to both the cooperatives and the cooperative promotion staff. All pilot cooperatives have now developed detailed analyses of their performance, strategic plan, and action plan for the important missions to be undertaken within the coming year. The implementation of the strategic plan will be followed up and supported mainly by the cooperative promotion officers from VCA and PCA, with project support up to May 2015. The participating pilot cooperatives are from the 4 selected provinces of Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Phu Yen. There are 3 pilot cooperatives in each, with different levels of performance and size and cover both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. Some cooperatives’ performance is very advanced and their strategic plans are aimed at exporting to European countries and entering new markets. These agricultural cooperatives need to mainly improve their services and businesses for members, expand new business and obtain access
to loans. There are also groups of villagers who are not yet operating within the cooperative structure and thus their aim is to improve their organization and products and register as cooperatives so that they can have their own brand and get access to loans.
This activity does not simply strengthen the cooperatives’ management in strategically assessing their performance and improve their planning/implementation, but also supports VCA and PCA in experiencing such analyses as well as planning and coaching methods including follow up and monitoring. These skills and methods could be applied to other cooperatives outside the pilot model and scaled up to other provinces later on. The project is financially supported by the Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with a financial contribution from VCA Central Region.
Did you know?
• The Central and Western Highland of Vietnam covers 19 provinces.
• The region accounts for 35.3% of the population and 30% of the country’s GDP growth, but has lower growth (average is over 13%) than other regions, with very low income per capita.
• The region has high poverty rates and mainly consists of poorer communities who live by agriculture and who are concentrated in remote and ethnic minority areas in the midland and mountainous districts.
• The region consists of around 5,350 cooperatives and SMEs
‘As the first step, we need to empower the cooperatives and make them realize the importance of their work. Then they must be supported to be able
to understand their current situation very well so that they can improve it in a realistic and structural way. I think VCA and PCA staff understand this process well and can lead the workshops for further cooperatives.’-Mr. Dusit Thongta, Director of the Center of Cooperative Technology Transfer Development 5, CPD
‘Besides transferring our method which has proved quite successful in Thailand, I also learned a lot from my experience in Vietnam. There are many good practices in cooperative development we can exchange between the two countries. I see Vietnamese people have very high potential because they know what they want to achieve. We are only here to guide this new process and to structure it better.’-Mr. Kamthorn Pohlamphong, Chief of Nakhon Nayok Provincial Cooperative Promotion Office, CPD, Thailand
About the Project Intervention and the Pilot Models
Cooperatives and SMEs in central Vietnam are still limited in their business management and orientation (e.g. marketing system, product design skills, management capacity, cooperative business orientation and principles, resources efficiency knowhow, skilled workers and quality control) which prevent them from performing and from providing sufficient benefit to their members, especially in a changing competitive environment with increasing private sector investment in the region. The project aims to improve the service and support structure for cooperatives and SMEs in this region through capacity building for the regional Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA), Provincial Cooperative Alliance (PCA) and the pilot cooperatives/SMEs in selected provinces. In order to ensure that the service and support structure is improved and serves needs in today’s context, pilot cooperative models that VCA and PCA can utilize as learning venues and demonstrations for further upscaling are one of the project’s important expected results. Performance analysis and strategic planning is the first step to identify problems, visions and goals of these pilot cooperatives before supporting them with further demand-driven activities.
‘At first we were very scared about joining this process and almost in tears because we are not welleducated and we don’t know how to do strategic planning. But after 3 days, we felt that it was actually not difficult, we just needed to think step-by-step and realize what we lack. The guidance from the Thai expert, VCA and PCA was very helpful, and now we feel inspired to form ourselves into a cooperative and improve our performance.’ -Binh Anh Women Group, one of the pilot groups consisting of single, widowed and disadvantaged women, produces rattan weaving furniture structures. Some of their products are bought by local companies and sold to Ikea, the big furniture store from Sweden.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Media trip and On-Site Visit Nam Xong Sub-River Basin Management Project and Strengthening National Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Lao PDR Project
The “Nam Xong Sub-River Basin Management
Project” and “Strengthening National Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Lao PDR Project” under Lao- Thai-German Trilateral Cooperation Programme are moving towards the end of the project period. The 2 year project implementation (2012-2014) have achieved many interesting results with good practices which are useful for scaling up in other areas of Lao PDR and in the region. To disseminate project results and lesson learned to interested partners and general public, the Department of Water Resources and Department of Agriculture in Lao PDR, Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) and GIZ jointly organized a media trip and project site visit in Lao PDR on 25-31 May 2014. The media trip program was as follows.
Nam Xong Sub-River Basin Management Project
• Nam Xong River cruise in Vang Vieng to inspect the river environment and status
• Join the “Youth Network on Nam Xong Water Ouality Monitoring at Pakpo Elementary School”
• Observing the installation of a household grease trap and visiting a simple household wastewater treatment unit in Hinheup district.
Strengthening National Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Laos PDR Project
• Visiting Lao GAP certified farm in Aeksang Village and LAICO sweet corn farm
• Attending ”Public Relation Workshop on Lao GAP Certified Produce and Seal”
• Joining ”Lao GAP Certified Fruits and Vegetables Field Exhibition”
• Attending the Strengthening National Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Lao PDR Project Steering Committee meeting
The objectives of the media trip and on-site visit activitity were to produce and compile a collection of media products on the project results for knowledge management and public dissemination, to disseminate the project results and lesson learned and introduce Triangular Cooperation. Moreover, the activity has strengthened information sharing between Thai and Lao media representatives. The media trip and on-site visit helps to promote Triangular Cooperation as a new development cooperation model promoting regional integration . Moreover, the activity clearly demonstrates Thailand’s role as a donor in development cooperation. Several articles and news programs on project outcomes can be downloaded from the following links: