Experts: Farming cooperatives need govt’s support

Experts from the Lao National Institute for Economic Research (NIER) have cited research findings highlighting the challenges facing the development of agricultural cooperatives and the need for the government’s policy support to drive farmer group production.

NIER in cooperation with the Department of Rural Development and Cooperatives, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry held a seminar yesterday in Vientiane detailing the preliminary research findings on the development of agricultural cooperatives in Laos, which was attended by NIER acting director Kham Ouan Khamphoukeo.

The seminar delved into technical issues to identify and formulate policies on cooperatives as part of enhanced rural development through agricultural production.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, NIER acting party secretary Phetsaiy Phaithep said farmer groups were urging for progress on cooperatives to create greater benefits for members selling their agricultural products.

Addressing preliminary research findings on agricultural cooperative development, Deputy Director of the Centre for Training and Information, Ousavanh Thiengthepvongsa said the study had focused on assessing the current situation and the obstacles to advancing farming cooperatives.

Thiengthepvongsa explained that the country proclaimed the first Decree on Cooperatives No.136/PM in 2010 and Agreement on Cooperatives No. 2983/MAF in 2014.

Of which, the revision of the decree has reached the final draft.

A kick-off meeting was held on May 22 which discussed research preparation, design and the budget breakdown.

Field surveys of 26 key players were conducted in the provinces of Champasak and Sekong during June and a second meeting was held on Aug 24 to discuss field survey results, analytical work and interim report preparation.

Thiengthepvongsa stressed the research findings identified member benefits, procedural obstacles and credit access as significant challenges.

Cooperatives required support from the government to address the provision of technical knowledge, regulatory reform, membership, and evaluation criterion and other issues, he said.

He also recommended ongoing policy reforms relating to renewing the Prime Ministerial Decree on agricultural cooperatives.

Participants heard about the essential need to build strong leadership and educated committee members and that providing financial capital should be used as an incentive to justify group membership. — Vientiane Times/ANN

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