Food security of shifting cultivation systems: Case studies from Luang Prabang and Oudomxay provinces, Lao PDR
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The Government of the Lao PDR’s policy is to eliminate the cultivation of upland rice by means of ‘slash-and-burn’ cultivation and to replace it with more ecologically stable systems based on sustainable land use at the village and household level. The objectives of this policy are to alleviate poverty and to introduce more sustainable management of agricultural resources. In order to achieve these objectives, the government has initiated a program of relocation to upland ‘focal areas’ from which marketing, distribution and other services can be supplied, these being essential preconditions for effective agricultural development in these regions.
This diagnostic study has examined communal and household strategies for addressing food security issues, and has highlighted the main problems encountered in the pursuit of food security on the local level. The specific objective was to conduct a broadly focused participatory problem diagnosis of the study areas in two districts Phonsay and Namo, in order to understand farmers’ problems, livelihood goals and how their perspectives on food security have changed, and to investigate food security in shifting cultivation systems in Luang Prabang and Oudomxay provinces. Within these two provinces Phonsay and Namo districts were selected as the research areas. The two districts are the poorest districts in the Luang Prabang and Oudomxay provinces and two of ten priority poorest districts in the whole country. Semi-structured interviews were conducted for the study. The results of this study were reviewed against the sustainable land use systems strategy formulated from the Lao PDR policy. The study highlights both the benefits and stresses on household welfare, food insecurity conditions in the study areas, and interrelated problems of insufficient rice for household consumption. Finally based on these results the authors propose recommendations and future research indications.
Key wordsShifting cultivation food security rice sustainable land management Lao PDR
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