The 7th edition of the Lao Organic Agriculture Forum (LOAF 7) kicked off with an organic fair organized just outside the conference venue, where over 50 SMEs exhibited organic tea, vegetables, fertilizer, rice, beauty products, and others.
LOAF 7 was jointly organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoAF), the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) and UNCTAD. Over 150 stakeholders of organic agriculture, including smallholder producers, traders, processors, exporters, buyers, development partners and government officials discussed the opportunities and challenges Lao organic agriculture faces to reach international markets, and how to best organize supporting actions.
Participants repeatedly highlighted that successful commercialisation is the key to the future of organic agriculture in Lao PDR. In this sense, the joint organization effort between MoAF and MoIC, promoted by UNCTAD, was very well received. “UNCTAD has been catalytic to promote the commercialization of Lao organic agriculture, and make it contribute to the implementation of the National Green Growth Strategy.”, said Vice-Mister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Bounkhounang Khambounheuang.
Another key point in the discussions was the need to shift the focus of the organic export strategy from only developed-country markets to include neighboring markets. The motivation for this is the expectation that 65 per cent of the world's middle class, to which consumers of organic products belong, will be in Asia by 2030.
In break-out sessions, participants discussed specific actions to ensure the continuity of LOAF into the Lao Organic Movement Association (LOMA) and to upgrade the organic agriculture strategy to the national agenda. The outcomes from these sessions will be reflected in a document drafted by MoAF and endorsed by other ministries.
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