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Developing the northern mountainous regions The NUDP (Northern Uplands Development Programme), which aims to reduce poverty in the country’s northern provinces, operates under the auspices of the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry. The project is co-financed by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, who have both delegated their funds to AFD and by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). This is the first time a financing agreement directly managed by the local administration within a “programme approach” has been put in place. This is in line with recent moves to improve aid effectiveness, as outlined in the Paris Declaration of 2005 and that of Vientiane in 2006. Financing has been made available at a number of different levels, such as investment support for local populations and producers’ organisations, development of agricultural supply chains and markets through the provision of support for services and advice. Funds have also focussed on infrastructure development, support to decentralised state services at district and provincial levels, research and development in the field of conservation agriculture and assistance to the Ministry to develop policies and sectoral promotional activities. The programme, which began in 2010, is due to continue until 2016, and involves three districts in each of the provinces of Luang Prabang, Houaphanh and Phongsaly, a total of nine districts.

Arabica coffee harvest © AGPC, Micka Perier

Traditional slash and burn agriculture © CCL, Olivier Ducourtieux

The coffee sector on the Bolaven plateau The cultivation of coffee is a symbolic element of the culture of the Bolaven plateau in southern Laos and a sector which is expanding rapidly. AFD has been supporting this development for around ten years, at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The aim is to promote and encourage small coffee producers alongside those private investors who have concessions in the area.

Phounoy woman winnowing rice © CCL, Olivier Ducourtieux

Funding provided by AFD has helped to create and strengthen the Bolaven plateau Coffee Producer Groups Association (AGPC). The association now manages the entire supply chain from production to roasting and marketing of an organic coffee product which has received fair trade certification, and which now accounts for 5% of regional production and 15% of coffee producers. AGPC is recognised at a national level as a model for agricultural producers’ organisations and contributes to the quality image of Lao coffee which may soon achieve a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). Running alongside this project, funding has also supported the Ministry in the creation of the Lao Coffee Board. This body is responsible for regulating the entire supply chain and those involved in it.

AFD's involvement in Laos  

AFD was mandated to begin work in Laos in 1993 and opened its local office in 1994.