Economic development and smallholder agency in Lao PDR

TitleEconomic development and smallholder agency in Lao PDR
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsVongvisouk T, Nanhthavong V, Latthachack P, Thongphanh D, Zaehringer JG, Thongmanivong S
Place PublishedBern, Switzerland and Vientiane, Lao PDR
Key themesAgriculturalModernization, Conversion-FoodSecurity, FDI, Policy-law

LAO PDR was relatively isolated from global markets as recently as the 1980s. Today, it is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Over the years, it implemented various reforms aimed at opening up its state-run economy to private and foreign investment, in particular to exploit its vast natural resources – not least of all arable land. A poverty eradication programme launched in the early 2000s – including provisions meant to discourage “shifting cultivation” and instead promote cash cropping – enabled gains in rural areas, but also gave rise to new challenges. Meanwhile, the 2004 Opium Replacement Programme incentivized Chinese investors to develop rubber cultivation and processing in Lao PDR. In 2014, increasing land conflicts and food-security concerns culminated in the government announcing a ban on conversion of wet rice-growing areas to cash-crop plantations, namely for bananas.


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