Laos: an agricultural treasureLaos, or more precisely the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, lies in the center of Southeast Asia.
Covering a land area of 236,800 km², this landlocked country is mountainous, densely forested and is bordered by the Mekong River. Laos has a low population density, with only seven million inhabitants, made up of 49 distinct ethnic groups. The majority belong to the Tai-Lao ethnolinguistic group, who are supported by a family-based economic structure with rice farming as the principal activity. Lao Farmer’s Products provides opportunities to farmers to expand their support systems and enter the market economy while simultaneously preserving the natural and social environment.
Lao Farmer’s Products HistoryFollowing the adoption of the New Economic Mechanism in 1988, a group of passionate social-environmental conservationists sought to improve agricultural practices among subsistence farmers in northern mountainous areas by moving away from environmentally destructive slash and burn agricultural techniques. Accordingly, the Support Association for Development to Subsistence farmer Societies (ASDSP) was founded to support farmers in the implementation of sustainable agricultural techniques, and to open access to local and international markets.
An artisanal food producer, Lao Farmer’s Products, began in 1996 in order to buy, package and sell raw materials from subsistence farmers under supervision of the ASDSP. Products are sold locally and are also distributed internationally by the European fair trade network.
Fair trade and Organic
LFP adds value to producer group organic production under the supervision of ASDSP.
Our mission is to support sustainable development between people, nature and livelihoods. Our products are made from seasonally available raw materials and without chemical inputs, contributing to sustainable agricultural practices. In addition, our trade and market values are founded on dialogue, transparency, mutual respect and fair prices for our partners.
LFP supports small producers in integrating Asian regionalization initiatives, managing competition, cutting rural poverty levels, and the preservation of Lao traditional values.
Our products can be consumed knowing that the products have been harvested and processed sustainably while ensuring that the proceeds are shared fairly with farmers and producers.
LFP’s vision is of a future where people work and live in harmony with nature through the sustainable trade principles of: fairness, natural and organic. In the long term, we hope to:
- Protect the rural Laotian agricultural heritage
- Improve small producers' living conditions and strengthen their self-reliance
- Be a dynamic player in regional and international fair trade
Why fair trade and organic agriculture in Laos?
In comparison to many other countries in the region, Laos has conserved its natural resources by avoiding the use of intensive agriculture practices. An opportunity exists for developing and expanding the use of organic agriculture in the country. As it is difficult for Laos to compete with its neighbors, its products must promote and have added value, such as a commitment to high quality and sustainable products. However, the internal organic product market is limited, posing yet another challenge.
Fair trade is a key development initiative, reducing inequality by ensuring producers are paid a fair price. It is deeply linked to respecting nature and people, and as the concept is relatively new to Laos, its proponents must continue to support and strengthen efforts.