Four rice farmer groups from Savannakhet province and eight from Khammouane province of Lao PDR received their Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification on March 14, 2019 from the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR. The GAP certifications attest that rice produced by the farmers follow proper and safe production processes, and bring them the added incentive of commanding premium market price compared to non-GAP rice.
The GAP certification is the result of steady efforts of the RLED-EWEC Project supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Staff members from the Lao Field Office offered a series of capacity building activities to prepare the farmers for the certification process, beginning with the latter’s organization into farmer groups. Training programs on GAP standardization, farm mapping, integrated pest control management, and internal control systems, certification preparation were then offered. The Project also offered support to the farmers during the field audit carried out by the Standard Division, Department of Agriculture.
“There are 15 GAP farmer groups with 315 farmer households for the wet season of 2017-2018 in Khammouane province that we supported but unfortunately, due to the flooding incident last year, only eight were certified. In Savannakhet, we supported four farmer groups, and this is the first ever GAP certification for Savannakhet province,” shares Ms. Kanha Bouasavanh, Project Coordinator at the EWEC Lao Field Office. “We hope that these certifications can increase the awareness on proper agricultural practices and food safety in the province, both of which are aligned with the national strategy to upgrade to Green or Clean Agriculture,” she adds.
In addition to helping the farmer groups secure their GAP certifications, the Project has also been instrumental in lobbying for and successfully getting approval from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to increase the validity of the certificates from one to two years for the entire country.
With these newly-awarded certificates, farmers are eager to increase the land size for farming GAP rice. Leveraging on its business linkage models, the Project has also succeeded in convincing Sysamai Rice Mill to support GAP farmers by promoting GAP standards among its farmer groups for the wet season of 2019, which could potentially bring up the number of GAP farmer groups in the coming wet season 2019.
In 2016-2017, the Project was also instrumental in helping Vanida Rice Mill secure its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification, the first ever GMP certification for Khammouane and Lao PDR.