VIENTIANE, LAOS – The United States is collaborating with Laos to improve the livelihoods of farmers and expand the trade of Lao agricultural products. On July 10, 2019 in Vientiane, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao PDR and Winrock International signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expand programs designed to strengthen local farmers and expand their markets through the Agriculture Creating Linkages for Expanded Agricultural Networks (CLEAN) project, which is funded by the United States.
The MOU was signed by Mr. Vilaysouk Khennavong, Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Alex Dahan, CLEAN Chief of Party. U.S. Ambassador to Laos Rena Bitter and Dr. Liane Thykeo, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, witnessed the MOU signing.
CLEAN is a United States Department of Agriculture program, which will be implemented by Winrock International over the next four years. CLEAN will work with Lao farmers and local authorities in Vientiane capital, Vientiane province, as well as on the Bolaven Plateau in Champasak, Salavan, and Sekongprovinces. Using a market-driven approach, the project will develop market linkages and increase demand for Lao clean agriculture in domestic, regional and global markets by improving quality compliance and certification systems. These efforts will increase production and reduce post-harvest losses.
“The United States is excited to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on this important project given the importance of farming and natural products to the livelihood of many Lao families. By building capacity, increasing agricultural productivity, and linking farmers to markets, this project will benefit many Lao families whose livelihoods depend on agriculture,” said U.S. Ambassador Bitter. “The United States is committed to helping the Government of Laos achieve the country’s development goals, and this project will make it easier for Lao farmers to expand their markets and generate more income.”
CLEAN will capitalize on Lao PDR’s comparative advantage in the Greater Mekong Subregion and global markets, where demand for high-quality agricultural products will translate into greater prices for Lao farmers who can meet this demand. Under this MOU, CLEAN will collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to increase small-holder farmer productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability through training and market linkages.
In addition to the CLEAN project, the United States works in partnership with the government and citizens of Laos in many areas to improve education, promote health and nutrition, facilitate trade and investment, and strengthen the rule of law.