Cooperation is the key: An inclusive...
The MMG Lane Xang Minerals Ltd mining operation and its subsidiary workers in the district, require over 300 tonnes of rice annually. Currently, this rice is bought from other areas of the country or from abroad. This does not contribute to the local economy, although the area surrounding Sepon mine has the potential to produce this amount of rice. The Enhancing Milled Rice Production project in Vilabouly (EMRIP-V) improves the capacity of smallholder farmers, rice millers and the rice traders in the area, to reach the production and supply of 300 tonnes of locally produced good quality milled rice by the end of the project.
The project is funded by MMG Lane Xang Minerals. The project was renewed for a second phase in 2016 that will run until 2019. The first phase of the project ran from 2013 to 2016.
The Vilabouly district in Lao PDR has a population of about 30,000 and is one of the poorest districts in the country. Farmers in the region tend to grow traditional varieties of rice seeds. The rice is normally hard with a high percentage of broken grains and mixed varieties. Farmers in general grow rice for self-consumption with old-fashioned methods. EMRIP-V (I & II) encourages market-oriented rice production and market-based solutions to address key constraints in the rice value chain. For example, by promoting the use of high yield variety of fresh rice seed and improved production methods.
EMRIP-V phase II will increase income and employment opportunities for smallholder farmers (producer groups), millers, and rice business groups in Vilabouly District, while contributing to improved household food security. The explicit integration of these issue is designed to ensure sustained access to food and good health conditions of rice farming households. Phase II of the project also seeks to minimise the potential impacts of climate change on production and supports farmers to develop climate smart agriculture technologies. The main actions of phase II are:
- Consolidating the results achieved in phase I by further strengthening the capacity of producer groups, millers and rice business groups;
- Improving the resilience of farmers against climate change impacts by adopting new, sustainable technologies;
- Strengthening the rice supply chain and access to financial services and markets.
During the second phase of the project, SNV will continue to work within the existing villages in Vilabouly District, and will seek to scale-up into adjacent villages. The project will target the original 1,300 households from Phase I and aim to incorporate an additional 800 households as new participating farmers.
Specifically the project will:
- Increase the income of 2,100 smallholder farmers by 15% and small businesses in the rice sub-sector by 10% (13 rice millers and rice business group; improved production quantity and quality of milled rice);
- Enable farmers to cope with the impact of climate change (enhanced resilience) through introduction of climate proof and sustainable technologies for production and processing;
- Increase food security of participating rice household farmers by adopting strategies to produce year round access to diverse food and diets, while also improving the nutritional status of the household members;
- Federate farmer groups into a formal cooperative that can effectively respond to the needs of its members, including efficient delivery of appropriate technical and extension services;
- Strengthen the capacity of farmer groups, millers and rice business groups to gain affordable access to business and financial services, and enhance their marketing skills to promote sustainable rice production;
- Improve and strengthen the rice supply chain in the target project areas.
To reach these objectives, the project will strengthen inclusive supply chains, enhance food security and nutrition of rice farming households, will promote climate proof and sustainable technologies for improved production and processing, support the strengthening and formation of cooperatives, improve sustainable access to business and financial services and markets for smallholder farmers, cooperatives and businesses.
The main intervention point of EMRIP-V I was the local "Rice Business Group", which was already supplying rice to the mining operation from outside the district, and selected local rice mills. The millers are in the village with close proximity to smallholder farmers, and could potentially benefit by linking them to the market. Both the Rice Business Group and the millers have the greatest leverage in the rice value chain to unlock the potential of the rice sector, remove the systemic constraints and increase productivity in Vilabouly district. The millers are in the village with close proximity to small-holder farmers, and could potentially benefit by linking them to the market.
Implementation of EMRIP-V I achieved results 260% above the original target to date. The total number of participating farmers has reached 1,300 households, which is 800 over the original target of 500 households. Targeted farmers organised themselves into 21 farmer groups and established commercial links to 13 millers. Farmer groups were supported to adopt improved farming practices to better mainstream the supply chain. As a result, the majority of farmers now use high-yield rice varieties and implement improved rice production techniques, including the use of production plans (planting schedules)