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Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

HOW DO WE KNOW AN UPLAND SOLUTION WHEN WE SEE ONE? John Raintree

Abstract If the NAFRI workshop in Luangprabang was about identifying solutions to upland problems, then this paper is about a search frame to aid us in recognising a solution when we see one. There are three main sources of ideas for upland solutions: 1) Diagnosis of local problems, 2) Inventory of local solutions, 3) Historical pathways of development in comparable systems. In the diagnostic approach, the search for solutions begins with an analysis of the problems. A clear view of the problem is often all that is needed to suggest the nature of the required solution. Many of the papers in this volume have used this approach, either explicitly or implicitly. The starting point is usually some kind of participatory analysis of problems and opportunities with the local community. Causal diagramming is a useful tool for obtaining clarity about problems, causes, and intervention points within the system where solutions can be applied. There is never only one problem or one solution, but rather an interrelated set of causes and effects, and a range of possible solutions at different levels of the system. Diagnostically relevant solution types identified by papers in this workshop include: cropping systems solutions; livestock management solutions; NTFP and forest management solutions; land use planning, land allocation and relocation solutions; other policy-related diagnostic and planning solutions; institutional solutions and implementing mechanisms. Inventory of indigenous solutions already being experimented with by local innovators is another powerful and even more relevant source of solutions. ‘Home grown’ solutions identified in this way tend to have the advantage of being rooted in indigenous knowledge, compatible with local culture, and pre-adapted for effectiveness under local biological and socio-economic constraints. The view that livelihood solutions have to be given to rural communities displays a profound ignorance of the realities of rural life, where innovation in the face of adversity has always been a condition of continued survival. Several of the papers in this volume discuss locally originated solutions and one paper in particular reports on a systematic inventory of indigenous agroforestry innovations. Knowledge of common pathways of historical development in comparable systems is another source of insights into proven solutions to contemporary challenges. We know from the global experience that there are only a certain number of proven directions for the transformation of shifting cultivation. Historically, they have usually involved the adoption of one or more of the following core elements: rice paddies and fish ponds; home gardens and tree crop plantations; mixed farming systems with draught animals and managed feed sources; extensive agro-pastoral systems in dry or mountainous areas; mulch/green manure/cover crop farming in humid areas. What all these have in common is that they are ecologically sustainable and more productive than degraded shifting cultivation. Success with these approaches may require the ability to solve two development riddles. Riddle No.1: When is a solution not a solution? Answer: 1) When it generates more problems than it solves, 2) When it is not adopted by the intended beneficiaries. Examples are given in the final section of the

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NAFRI Workshop Proceedings paper. Riddle No.2: When is a problem not a problem? Answer: When it is part of a solution. Example: Traditional, long-fallow shifting cultivation with enriched fallow crops and NTFPs - a proven, highly productive and sustainable system at low population densities. Following a brief outline of an information management system for keeping track of upland solutions, the paper concludes with a review of the current inventory of solutions and some critical gaps that remain to be filled.

Introduction In an orientation meeting when I first came to work at NAFRI, some four years ago, the then Director General of NAFRI, Dr. Ty Pommasack, said, “You know, John, here in Laos we have had twenty years of research, but so far very few technologies have resulted that could be taken up by farmers.” What Laos needs, he said, is practical adaptive research to generate technologies that can be adopted by upland farmers. He also said that we should aim to produce such technologies within five years. Well, time is almost up, but I am hopeful that this workshop will go a long way toward answering Dr. Ty’s concern. Judging from the abstracts submitted, the workshop will show that we do have a lot of solutions for the uplands. However, fifteen years might be a more realistic timeframe for widespread development in the uplands. For this to occur, the vision of what constitutes a sustainable upland mix will need to be revised. One thing that should be clear is that it is not just technologies that are needed, but also other kinds of solutions: institutional solutions, market and infrastructure solutions, and policy and planning solutions are all needed. While many of these are addressed by the broad range of papers in this volume, it might be useful to first consider how we can recognise an upland solution.

How do we recognise an upland solution? How do we look for solutions? Where do we look for them? I would like to suggest that there are three main sources of solutions and ideas about solutions for the uplands: 1.

Diagnosis of problems.

2.

Inventory of local solutions.

3.

Historical pathways of development in comparable systems.

4.

Market signals. Let us briefly consider each of these in turn.

The diagnostic approach “The ability to find a solution begins with the ability to define what the problem is.” Those are the words of Howard Steppler, the Director General of The World Centre for Agroforestry (ICRAF) when I first came to work with the organisation twenty years ago. At that time the diagnostic approach in Farming Systems Research was just gaining momentum and we were responding to the challenge of developing a diagnostic approach for the broader range of concerns involved in agroforestry.

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

The diagnostic approach, in one form or another, is now pretty much standard practice in all international research and development projects. The abstracts of many of the papers here testify to this fact by giving explicit recognition to the problematique being addressed by the solutions proposed. For other papers the diagnostic rationale is less explicit but nevertheless still discernible. Only for a few papers is it still missing. “Problem? What problem?” The basic idea behind the diagnostic approach is the search for solutions begins with an analysis of the problems. This is very productive because a clear view of the problem is often all that is needed to suggest the nature of the required solution. The starting point is normally some kind of participatory problem analysis carried out with the concerned community. Methods vary concerning the level of detail they go into and what kind of analytics are used, but they all eventually end up with a better understanding of what is a relevant solution to the problems and opportunities of the local livelihood system. Sometimes there is an argument about what is the problem and what is the solution. Such arguments are fruitless. There is never only one problem and never only one solution even for a single problem. The reality is always a complex network of interrelated causes and effects, and every cause is a possible entry point for a solution. Causal analysis is a useful tool for bringing clarity into the analysis of the most important cause-effect complexes within the diagnostic picture. On the basis of such an analysis it is relatively easy to identify “entry points” and general “functional specifications” for critical interventions within the system where specific solutions might have a significant impact on the causes of problems. The following sequence shows the evolution of a generalised causal diagram based on upland people’s own analysis of the causes of their poverty, as uncovered by the Participatory Poverty Analysis, supplemented by additional findings from NAFRI’s diagnostic research in northern Laos (LSUAFRP 2002a-d, 2003a-b). The basic problem, which is the starting point for this analysis, is insufficiency of rice for household consumption. This is caused by two factors: low household rice production and low cash income, which makes it difficult to buy enough rice for household needs.

The most direct cause of low rice production among shifting cultivators is the . . .

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The next part of the diagram brings in the additional factors of insufficient paddy land and shortage of animal power, and indicates the main . . .

Adding the labour factor, we have a more complete picture of the . . .

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

But this is not yet the whole story. Turning to the problem of low cash income, the other side of the total problematique is revealed:

Putting it altogether and elaborating the linkages we arrive at an understanding of the upland problematique as . . .

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Not all of these problems are apparent in every upland location and some locations may have problems not shown on this diagram. Nevertheless, it does seem to represent most of the major upland problems. By examining the causal network we see numerous opportunities for interventions aimed at solving or mitigating these interrelated problems:

This is very general. Each of the problem complexes could have its own more detailed causal diagram to highlight opportunities for more specific solutions. We will not go into that level of detail here because that is the province of the individual papers. Our purpose here is only to illustrate the diagnostic approach in a general way, as it applies to the uplands of Laos. Problems exist at many levels and many different kinds of solutions are needed. It is helpful to try to identify the level of problem being addressed within the hierarchy of causes and effects and the logic of the solution. When we understand the logic of the solution, we can often then see alternative ways of accomplishing the intended effects. Our thinking about solutions opens up and becomes more creative and more effective. Some of the different strategies for tackling problematic cropping systems might be as follows (see next page):

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

The main difficulty we may encounter when trying to apply a diagnostic approach is in harmonising our thinking about solutions with the local people’s own problem-solving strategies. The general experience is that it is not so difficult to come to agreement with farmers about the diagnosis of problems, but it can be very difficult to anticipate which of several alternative solutions are most likely to succeed with the local people. That is why it is always good to combine a diagnostic survey with an . . .

Inventory of local solutions The best solutions are those that are closely related to the local people’s own attempts at problem solving. Why? Because they are rooted in the indigenous knowledge of the people and are, for this reason, far more likely to spread quickly to other potential users. Moreover, these home grown solutions are already pre-adapted to local constraints. Maybe

A local corn huller

Hed daeng mushroom

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All communities have innovators, even if they are only a small percentage of the population. This Hmong farmer in Namor has been experimenting for many years with such innovations as:

A

A) an adjustable molboard plough, B) a series of harrows of his own design, and C) labour saving tools like this rice thresher.

B

C

the adaptation is not yet complete, but when you find an indigenous innovation being practised you at least know that it works for someone in the local community. Also, local farmers are much more relevant as models for other farmers than outsiders. For all these reasons, it is always wise to focus a major part of your effort on supporting development and spread of local innovations that build upon the local technological tradition. The same applies to institutional solutions. How do you recognise local solutions when you look for them in this way? It is simple - they are related to local problems. The two approaches are not unrelated. In fact, a good diagnostic understanding of local problems is usually a prerequisite for a systematic inventory of local solutions. Otherwise, how would you recognise a solution when you found it? How would you even begin to tell people what you are looking for? The view that villagers have to be ‘given’ livelihood solutions could not be further from the truth. This viewpoint demonstrates a profound ignorance of the realities of village life. In all communities there are some farmers who are innovators. Through these individuals, rural populations are constantly experimenting with new solutions to survival problems. If these populations did not have innovators, they would have ceased to exist long ago. All you have to do is to look for the innovations. We have a number of papers that focus on local solutions and we have one in particular that reports on a systematic inventory of indigenous agroforestry innovations (Forshed and Sodarak 2004). The above pictures illustrate just a few of the innovations found in NAFRI’s research area.

Known pathways of historical development in comparable systems The other major source of good ideas about local solutions is to find out what other communities have done in similar situations in the past. The problems of shifting cultiva-

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

tion under population pressure are not new. This has happened many times before in all parts of the world. How did people respond? In fact, the patterns of response are very clear and regular. We know from the global experience there are only a certain number of proven directions for the transformation of shifting cultivation. Historically, the transformation of shifting cultivation has usually involved the adoption of one or more of the following core technologies: 

Rice paddies.



Fish ponds.



Home gardens.



Tree crop plantations.



Mixed farming systems with draught animals and managed feed sources.



Agro-pastoral systems in dry or mountainous areas.



Mulch farming systems.

What these all have in common is that they are sedentary, sustainable and more productive than degraded shifting cultivation. Communities within the same cultural geographical region tend to follow similar pathways of development. African shifting cultivators tend to gravitate towards tree crops and mixed farming systems. Rice paddies and fish ponds are typical of Asia. Home gardens are ubiquitous, and reach high levels of complexity and productivity in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The fact that there are known patterns of historical development in a given region does not mean that farmers must follow these pathways, only that it is highly likely that they will do so. In this there is good news for Laos, because the Asian tradition is full of highly productive systems that exist, as yet, only in rudimentary forms in the rural areas of Laos.

A home garden in Phonxay District: a symbol of the very large potential for further development along traditional Asian lines of intensification?

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There is vast potential in Laos for productivity increases through intensification of classical Asian forms of: 

Home gardens (e.g. mixed subsistence/commercial like the market home gardens of Thailand).



Rice paddies (highland valleys, terracing and multiple cropping have only begun to be developed).



Fish ponds (especially integrated agro-forestry-fishpond complexes like those of southern China).



Tree crop plantations (especially mixed agroforestry suan, e.g. the “spice gardens” of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the multi-species market gardens of Thailand, agroforestry intercropping systems for commercial crops like tea and rubber, pineapple under teak, etc.).



Mixed farming (like the buffalo-based plough farming systems of the Philippines).



Agro-pastoral systems (it is harder to find mid-elevation Asian parallels comparable to the potential in Laos; if we have to look outside the agro-ecological zone perhaps the Swiss model would be appropriate, where people live in villages in the valleys and herd under collective management in the highlands)

The global experience on transformation of shifting cultivation is that forced measures are less likely to succeed than voluntary attractions. A common approach to facilitating transformation has been to encourage sedentarisation through creation of economic magnets that attract farmers and make them want to stay near these new sources of wealth (e.g. tree crop plantations, rice paddies, fish ponds, market access opportunities, etc.).

Market signals Villagers are already receiving and responding to market signals - with or without public sector assistance. Market-oriented development is happening already, perhaps not as rapidly as it could if public sector support were more coordinated, but probably more rapidly than the public sector realises. For an example of an area where market signals are having a major impact we can point to the border provinces of Oudomxay and Luangnamtha, where the influence of the Chinese market is most dramatically felt. In how many places in the Lao PDR can you find farmers practising contour ridging or mini-terracing of hillsides, as Namor District where there are sugar cane fields next to the new road to China? The reason for adopting this conservation practice is that it was part of the deal the farmers made with a sugar cane factory in return for a “turnkey” extension package that enabled them to rapidly adopt sugar cane growing. The package, brought to them by a contracted extension agent of the sugar cane factory in Mengla, Xishaungbanna, also included the planting material, fencing, a cash loan for hiring labour, technical training on sugar cane growing and a ready market for the cane crop. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the first crops is used to repay the loan of cash and materials needed to get started. This illustrates the power of an integrated extension approach, as sometimes found in the private sector.

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

There has been a lot of discussion in development circles in Laos about whether sugar cane is really a good crop for Lao farmers, but the discussion remains academic in Namor because no one in Laos is offering the farmers any comparable opportunities. There does, however, appear to be a serious issue concerning the sustainability of sugar cane growing. Over the long term, the soil will suffer from exhaustion of fertility, as has already happened on the Chinese side of the border where cane can now only be grown with heavy fertiliser inputs. The officers of the sugar cane factory in Mengla freely admit that the relative fertility of the forest covered slopes along the new roads close to the border is what makes sugar growing such an attractive proposition on the Lao side (LSUAFRP 2003c). Perhaps the public sector has an important role to play in complementing the private sector extension success by undertaking research to develop sustainable cropping systems for sugar cane, incorporating rotations of fertility restoring crops in conjunction with moderate fertiliser use. Market sustainability does not appear to be an issue. Southwestern China seems to want to have its own sugar supply and the factory in Mengla is operating at only about 50% of capacity. The entire sugar crop that it receives from Oudomxay and Luangnamtha can only keep the factory busy for two days. Rubber for the Chinese market is also that is taking the northern border provinces by storm. The rubber story is another example of the speed with which market driven developments can occur, with or without public sector support. Rubber was introduced into Luangnamtha by Chinese entrepreneurs. Hmong farmers in NAFRI’s Namor research area mentioned their interest in rubber growing, based on the positive experience of relatives in Luangnamtha, to the farming systems researchers in 2003. In late 2003 provincial officials in Oudomxay asked NAFRI to provide advice about the advisability of rubber growing in that province. Within a month the Socio-economics Unit sent a market research team, accompanied by staff from the Namor DAFO office, into the established rubber growing area of Luangnamtha to assess farmers’ experience with rubber and to interview district and provincial officials about their views on rubber. The team then followed the market chain into China, where it interviewed a number of small rubber processing units. Within a couple weeks of this mission’s final briefing to the Namor DAFO, the Socioeconomics Unit issued a report on the findings of the mission. Then, when members of the Socio-economics Unit returned to Namor two weeks later, they were surprised to discover that the Chinese promoters had already established a one million seedling rubber nursery in Namor! So much for careful deliberation of options before deciding what to do about rubber. The issues brought to light in the SEU report (LSUAFRP 2003c), and which Lao government officials should consider before rushing headlong into rubber production are: 

Why is China getting out of rubber production?



Is rubber production really an economically viable option for Laos?



And if so, what kind of rubber plantation system would give the most development benefit with least risk to participating farmers? The answers, in brief, appear to be:



Rubber production in Xishuangbanna, even of the special northern adapted variety, has been judged to be an economically marginal activity in the Chinese context. The country’s real interest is in rubber manufacturing rather than raw rubber production. Xishuangbanna has been advised to get out of rubber production, and is apparently

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responding to that by promoting the transfer of production to Laos. 

With low production costs and two markets for rubber, the Chinese to the north and the Thai-Malaysian-Indonesian rubber cartel to the south, rubber production might well constitute a viable economic opportunity for Laos.



However, tea-rubber agroforestry gardens might be far more beneficial than conventional monoculture plantations, not only for biological reasons as the following chart suggests, but also for economic diversification of the smallholders’ livelihood system (Source of data: in Roland Cheo, An Evaluation of the Impact of Rubber Trees in China on the Rural Economy with Specific Focus on Xishaungbanna, Yunnan and Hainan Island. http://natureproducts.net/Ecology/Rubber/Rubber.htm). Rubber Yield (kg/ha)

1150 1100 1050 1000 950 Rubber

Rubber/Tea Agroforestry

What both of these examples show is that while market signals, especially when received from a powerful market force like China, can generate a development impetus that public sector development programmes in Laos are powerless to duplicate, the public sector may still have a critical role to play in protecting Lao farmers from uncontrolled manipulation and in ensuring that the best options are chosen from the range of possible development responses to these signals. In any case, while market signals are a powerful source of solutions for the uplands, these solutions themselves may bring new problems and challenges for Laos.

Solution types presented in the workshop papers The on-going review of the four major sources of solutions for the uplands may be regarded as a kind of prolegomenon to the papers presented in this volume, which richly represent and exemplify all four sources. A review of the abstracts of the papers available before the workshop indicates the following solution types: 

Cropping systems solutions (nine papers).



Livestock management solutions (two).



NTFP and forest management solutions (four).



Land use planning, land allocation and relocation solutions (four).



Other policy-related diagnostic and planning solutions (nine).



Institutional solutions and implementing mechanisms (six).

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

A diagnostically oriented synopsis of the kinds of solutions presented in the papers is given in the following table. This table represents the kind of simple and robust diagnostic key to solutions that could be used as the logic for a full-blown database that keeps track of upland solutions, preferably with a database architecture allowing flexible key word searches in unstructured text fields, for maximum flexibility and fidelity to the perverse, structure-defying nature of real world situations. Success with any of these approaches to the search for solutions may require the ability to deal with certain . . .

P aper

S o lu t io n s

P r o b le m s a d d r e s s e d

C r o p p in g s y s t e m s (IUA RP ) L i nq ui s t e t a l.

1 8 -2 7 % i nc re a s e i n yi e ld und e r s hi fti ng c ulti va ti o n fro m ri c e va ri e ty s e le c ti o ns re s ulti ng fro m p a rti c i p a to ry s e le c ti o n p ro c e d ure s ; i mp ro ve d ro ta ti o na l c ro p p i ng s ys te ms a d d re s s i ng p ro b le ms o f we e d s , s o i l fe rti li ty a nd d e c li ni ng yi e ld s (fo r fa rme rs p ra c ti c i ng ro ta ti o na l c ro p p i ng ); i nte ns i ve c o nti nuo us c ro p p i ng s ys te ms wi th d ry s e a s o n fa llo ws (fo r p e rma ne nt fi e ld fa rme rs ); a multi fa c e te d , p a rti c i p a to ry a nd a d a p ti ve re s e a rc h a p p ro a c h

Inc re a s e d p o ve rty a nd lo we r p ro d uc ti vi ty d ue to d e c li ni ng yi e ld s , d e c re a s e d s o i l fe rti li ty, i nc re a s e d we e d p re s s ure a nd la b o ur re q ui re me nts re s ulti ng fro m s ho rte ne d fa llo ws d ue to i nc re a s i ng p o p ula ti o n p re s s ure ; a nd s lo w a d o p ti o n o f s us ta i na b le up la nd te c hno lo g i e s d ue to la c k o f s i te -s p e c i fi c re c o mme nd a ti o ns d ue to d i ffi c ulti e s i n a d d re s s i ng the hi g h b i o lo g i c a l, e c o no mi c a nd c ultura l d i ve rs i ty o f the L a o up la nd s

P a d d y r ic e in u p la n d s (L a o - IRRI) P a nd e y e t a l

D e ve lo p me nt a nd p ro d uc ti vi ty i mp ro ve me nt o f hi g hla nd p a d d y ri c e i n va lle y flo o rs a nd te rra c e d fi e ld s , p ro vi d i ng hi g he r yi e ld s a nd i nc re a s e d fo o d s e c uri ty wi th lo we r la b o ur i np uts p e r uni t o f o utp ut tha n up la nd ri c e

V i c i o us c yc le o f lo w p ro d uc ti vi ty, e nvi ro nme nta l d e g ra d a ti o n a nd p o ve rty i n up la nd ri c e fa rmi ng - re s ulti ng fro m i nte ns i fi c a ti o n und e r p o p ula ti o n p re s s ure

F a r m in g s y s t e m Te c h n o lo g ie s ( L S UA F RP ) C ha np e ng s a y, C a lub & Ove rg o o r

L o wla nd a nd up la nd a nnua l c ro p s , s lo p i ng la nd i nte g ra te d frui t tre e s ys te ms , s ma ll a nd la rg e li ve s to c k fe e d i ng s ys te ms , i nte g ra te d p i g -fi s h p o nd s ys te ms , fro g p ro d uc ti o n, a nd we t s e a s o n ve g e ta b le c ulti va ti o n

L o w ho us e ho ld i nc o me a nd fo o d i ns e c uri ty a s s o c i a te d wi th d i a g no s e d p ro d uc ti o n c o ns tra i nts , a nd va ri a b le a d o p ti o n o f s o luti o ns b y ho us e ho ld s wi th d i ffe re nt c o nd i ti o ns

D ir e c t s e e d in g , Ag r o - e c o l o g y (C IRA D /NA F RI) Ti ve t e t a l.

Ze ro -ti lla g e d i re c t s e e d i ng o n c ro p re s i d ue s (re d uc e d e ro s i o n, i nc re a s e d yi e ld , re d uc e d c he mi c a l us e , re d uc e d la b o ur, re d uc e d c a p i ta l c o s t, i nc re a s e d i nc o me p e r ma n-d a y)

E ffe c ts o f a g ri c ultura l ‘ mi ni ng ’ i nc l: s o i l e ro s i o n, lo s s o f fe rti li ty, d e c re a s e d yi e ld s , c he mi c a l p o lluti o n, ro a d a nd p a d d y fi e ld d e s truc ti o n

C r o p p in g S y s t e m s

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Paper

S o lu tio n

P r o b le m /Is s u e

Ge n e r a tio n -e x te n s io n a p p r o a c h Ag r o e c o lo g y ( C IR A D / N A F R I) Ti ve t e t a l .

A g r o e c o l o g i c a l c r o p p i n g s ys t e m s d e ve l o p e d t h r o u g h t h e ‘ g e n e r a t i o n p l u s e xt e n s i o n ’ a p p r o a c h ( r e p l i c a t i o n o f f o r e s t s ys t e m s , n o n - d i s t u r b a n c e a n d c o n t i n u o u s c o ve r o f s o i l , r e d u c e d e r o s i o n , i nc r e a s e d o r g a ni c m a t t e r, i m p r o ve d s o i l p hys i c a l s t r u c t u r e , r e c yc l i n g o f n u t r i e n t s , w e e d c o n t r o l )

P r o b l e m s o f s o i l & w a t e r c o n s e r va t i o n , e nvi r o nm e nt a l d a m a g e , f o o d s a f e t y, h i g h c o s t a s s o c i a t e d w i t h c o n ve n t i o n a l a g r i c ul t ur e

C r o p p in g s y s te m s ( RD M A /B o k e o ) C ha ns o m

M o d i f i c a t i o n o f S A LT d e s i g ns t o i nc l ud e l e g u m i n o u s c o ve r c r o p s w i t h d i r e c t e c o n o m i c b e ne f i t s ( e . g . r i c e b e a n, l a b - l a b b e a n, b l a c k b e a n , m u n g b e a n , s t yl o s a n t h e s )

N o n- a d o p t i o n o f S A LT t e c hni q ue s b y fa rme rs

F r u it tr e e s ( IU A R P ) Lai et al

Int e g r a t e d f r ui t t r e e s s ys t e m s w i t h a c o nt i nuo us i nc o m e s t r e a m f r o m a nnua l c r o p s , m e d i um - t e r m f r ui t s ( p i ne a p p l e , b a na na ) & l o ng - t e r m f r ui t t r e e s p l a nt e d i n c o nt o ur he d g e r o w s

D e c l i n i n g r i c e yi e l d s a n d l i m i t e d o p p o r t uni t y f o r i nc o m e g e ne r a t i o n

R ic e c r o p p in g a n d f a l l o w ( IW M I/ N A F R I) d e R o uw

F a r m e r e xp e r i m e n t a t i o n w i t h a d a p t i ve c h a n g e s i n l a nd us e t hr o ug h a f o ur - s t e p p r o c e s s o f i nt e ns i f i c a t i o n, l e a d i ng i n t he f i na l s t a g e t o t he e n d i n g o f u p l a n d r i c e c u l t i va t i o n

P o p ul a t i o n p r e s s ur e o n r o t a t i o na l s h i f t i n g c u l t i va t i o n a n d l a b o u r s h o r t a g e f o r w e e d i ng

In d ig e n o u s a g ro fo re s try ( L S UA F RP ) S o d a r a k e t a l.

S ys t e m a t i c s u r ve y a n d d e s c r i p t i o n o f i n d i g e n o u s a g r o f o r e s t r y p r a c t i c e s r e s ul t i ng i n t he c a t a l o g i ng o f 2 4 d i s t i n c t a g r o f o r e s t r y s ys t e m s f o u n d i n 1 7 vi l l a g e s , i n c l u d i n g h o m e g a r d e n s , r o t a t i o n a l a n d i n t e r c r o p p i n g s ys t e m s , N T F P p l a n t a t i o n s , i m p r o ve d f a l l o w p r a c t i c e s , f i s h p o n d s ys t e m s a n d l i ve s t o c k g r a zi n g p r a c t i c e s

L a c k o f k n o w l e d g e a b o u t a l t e r n a t i ve i nd i g e no us a g r o f o r e s t r y p r o d uc t i o n s ys t e m s i n s h i f t i n g c u l t i va t i o n a r e a s

L iv e s to c k Ma n a g e m e n t S o lu tio n

L iv e s to c k I n t e n s i f i c a t i o n ( C IAT) P hi m p ha c ha nhvo ng s o d et al

S ys t e m a t i c s u r ve y a n d d e s c r i p t i o n o f i n d i g e n o u s a g r o f o r e s t r y p r a c t i c e s r e s ul t i ng i n t he c a t a l o g i ng o f 2 4 d i s t i n c t a g r o f o r e s t r y s ys t e m s f o u n d i n 1 7 vi l l a g e s , i n c l u d i n g h o m e g a r d e n s , r o t a t i o n a l a n d i n t e r c r o p p i n g s ys t e m s , N T F P p l a n t a t i o n s , i m p r o ve d f a l l o w p r a c t i c e s , f i s h p o n d s ys t e m s a n d l i ve s t o c k g r a zi n g p r a c t i c e s

L i m i t a t i o n s o n l i ve s t o c k p r o d u c t i o n d u e t o e p i d e m i c d i s e a s e s a nd f e e d s ho r t a g e s ; hi g h l a b o ur d e m a nd f o r i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n o f s h i f t i n g c u l t i va t i o n o n s te e p s lo p e s

L iv e s to c k Te c h n o l o g i e s ( C IAT) P h e n g s a va n h e t a l

Int e ns i f i c a t i o n o f l i ve s t o c k p r o d uc t i o n t hr o ug h f a r m e r m a na g e d f e e d r e s o ur c e s i n c o m b i na t i o n w i t h s t r a t e g i c u s e o f ve t e r i n a r y m e d i c i n e s

P r o b l e m s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h uns us t a i na b l e s h i f t i n g c u l t i va t i o n

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

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S o lu tio n

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N T F P a n d F o re s t Ma n a g e me n t S o lu tio n s R o le o f N T F P s (S N V /F R C /N AF R I) F o p p e s & K e tp h a n h

L o ng - c yc l e N T F P p r o d uc t i o n s ys t e m s

F o o d i n s e c u r i t y, l a c k o f c a s h i n c o m e , i ns t a b i l i t y o f s hi f t i ng c ul t i va t i o n, w a t e r s he d d e t e r i o r a t i o n, l o s s o f b i o d i ve r s i t y o f w i l d a nd c ul t i va t e d p l a nt s a nd a ni m a l s

W ild life h u n tin g (W C S ) Johnson, et al

R e c o m m e nd a t i o ns f o r d e ve l o p i ng vi l l a g e m o d e l s o f s us t a i na b l e w i l d l i f e us e f o r s ub s i s t e nc e

U ns us t a i na b i l i t y o f ha r ve s t r a t e s o f w i l d l i f e f o r s ub s i s t e nc e c o ns um p t i o n

Aq u ila r ia c r a s s n a ( N A F R I/ K V L ) J e n s e n

P o s s i b i l i t i e s f o r a c hi e vi ng e f f e c t i ve e x- s i t u c o ns e r va t i o n a nd hi g h i nc o m e f r o m va r i o us a c t i vi t i e s i n t he c ur r e nt p l a nt i ng b o o m ( f o r e s t d o m e s t i c a t i o n, s i ng l e - t r e e p l a nt i ng , a g r o f o r e s t r y, w o o d l o t s , a n d p l a n t a t i o n e s t a b l i s hm e nt )

E nt r y o f A q ui l a r i a c r a s s na ( ‘ w o o d o f t he g o d s ’ ) o n t he c r i t i c a l l y e nd a ng e r e d s p e c i e s l i s t d ue t o e xc e s s i ve a nd i nd i s c r i m i na t e ha r ve s t i ng

C o mmu n ity fo re s try w o o d lo t s p e c ie s ( L T S P / N A F R I) P a t h a m m a v o n g

A q u i l a r i a c r a s s n a , Te c t o n a g r a n d i s , E u c a l yp t u s c a m u l d u l e n s i s a n d A c a c i a m a ng i um

N e e d t o i d e nt i f y p r i o r i t y t r e e s p e c i e s t ha t m a t c h p l a nt i ng s i t e s

L a n d u s e p la n n in g , la n d a llo c a tio n a n d re lo c a tio n s o lu tio n s

R e s e ttle m e n t (AC F ) L a u r e n t R o mag n y

A l t e r na t i ve s us t a i na b l e l i ve l i ho o d s t r a t e g i e s t ha t d o no t r e q ui r e d i s p l a c e m e nt o f p o p ul a t i o n

P a rtic ip a to ry la n d u s e p la n V a r i o us r e c o m m e nd a t i o ns f o r i m p r o ve m e nt o f ( G T Z- R M D A / L u a n g n a m t h a ) P a r t i c i p a t o r y L a nd U s e P l a nni ng ( P L U P ) L u n d g ren p r o c e d ur e s

D i f f i c ul t i e s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h d i s p l a c e m e nt o f p o p ul a t i o n a s a d e ve l o p m e nt s t r a t e g y ( he a l t h a nd s a n i t a t i o n , d o u b l i n g o f m o r t a l i t y, i ns uf f i c i e nt p a d d y l a nd a nd a c c e s s t o b a s i c s e r vi c e s ) N e e d f o r i m p r o ve m e nt o f i m p l e m e nt a t i o n p r o c e d ur e s f o r l a nd us e p l a nni ng a nd l a nd a l l o c a t i o n

L a n d u s e & liv e lih o o d is s u e s (L S U AF R P ) J o n e s e t al

V i l l a g e l e ve l p l a nni ng o p t i o ns t o m i t i g a t e a d ve r s e c o ns e q ue nc e s o f r e l o c a t i o n a nd i m p r o ve t he e f f e c t i ve ne s s o f w e l l - i nt e nt i o ne d p o ve r t y a l l e vi a t i o n p r o g r a m m e s a nd p o l i c i e s

V i l l a g e l e ve l p l a nni ng o p t i o ns t o m i t i g a t e a d ve r s e c o ns e q ue nc e s o f r e l o c a t i o n a nd i m p r o ve t he e f f e c t i ve ne s s o f w e l l - i nt e nt i o ne d p o ve r t y a l l e vi a t i o n p r o g r a m m e s a nd p o li c i e s

L an d u se ap p ro ach es (S C S P P ) L a d o u a n g p h a n h & P h e ts o mp h a n g

F o r e s t p r o t e c t i o n a nd c o nt a i nm e nt o f up l a nd c ul t i va t i o n w i t hi n a g r e e d a g r i c ul t ur a l zo ne s t hr o ug h l a nd us e zo ni ng , vi l l a g e l a nd us e a g r e e m e nt s a nd i nt e r - vi l l a g e ne t w o r k i ng a nd m o ni t o r i ng

C o ns e r va t i o n a nd l i ve l i ho o d p r o b l e m s a r i s i ng f r o m l a nd us e p l a nni ng p r o c e d ur e s t ha t d o no t g i ve e no ug h t i m e t o vi l l a g e s t o a d a p t t o l a nd us e zo ni ng b e f o r e c a r r yi ng o ut l a nd a llo c a ti o n

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Oth e r p o lic y re la te d d ia g n o s is a n d p la n n in g s o lu tio n S h iftin g c u ltiv a tio n D uc o ur t i e ux

U nd e r s t a nd i ng o f ho w f a r m e r s o p t i m i ze f a m i l y l a b o ur us e a nd r e d uc e r i s k t hr o ug h s hi f t i ng c ul t i va t i o n

P o l i c i e s a nd d e ve l o p m e nt i nt e r ve nt i o ns w hi c h i nc r e a s e p o ve r t y a nd r i s k t hr o ug h o ve r - s i m p l i f i c a t i o n o f t r a d i t i o na l f a r m i ng s ys t e m s

C ard amo m (P D D P ) R o s s a r d a nd V i s o nna vo ng

L e s s o ns a b o ut d e ve l o p m e nt p r e r e q ui s i t e s ( e c o no m i c i s s ue s , m a r k e t r i s k s , c o m p a t i b i l i t y o f ne w c r o p s w i t h f a r m i ng s ys t e m s , a nd s ui t a b i l i t y f o r d i f f e r e nt c l a s s e s o f f a r m e r s )

F a i l ur e o f a t t e m p t s t o p r o m o t e c o nve r s i o n o f s hi f t i ng c ul t i va t i o n i nt o c a s h- c r o p b a s e d a g r i c ul t ur e

Changes at Houay Cha (GA A ) K i nze l m a nn e t a l

S us t a i na b l e s t a t i o na r y up l a nd f a r m i ng a nd i nt e g r a t e d f a r m i ng t e c hni q ue s , i m p r o ve d l i ve s t o c k p r o d uc t i o n a nd m a na g e m e nt o f N TF P s

U ns us t a i na b l e s hi f t i ng c ul t i va t i o n a nd r i c e d e f i c i e nc y o f 3 - 6 m o nt hs

N o ve l a p p r o a c h t o up l a nd D e ve l o p m e nt (S C S P P ) Ladouangphanh & K u la s u riy a

P a r t i c i p a t o r y vi l l a g e d e ve l o p m e nt p l a nni ng a nd l i ve l i ho o d a na l ys i s f o r i nt r o d uc i ng a l t e r na t i ve s e d e nt a r y t e c hno l o g i e s a nd p r o d uc t s , w a t e r s up p l y a nd i r r i g a t i o n, s ys t e m a t i c N T F P m a na g e m e nt , c o m m uni t yb a s e d d r ug r e ha b i l i t a t i o n, p r i m a r y he a l t h c a r e , r e vo l vi ng f und s , i nc o m e g e ne r a t i o n f o r w o m e n, e t c

P o ve r t y a nd e nvi r o nm e nt a l d e g r a d a t i o n f r o m uns us t a i na b l e s hi f t i ng c ul t i va t i o n

B a la n c e d a p p ro a c h (UNOD C ) L e i k B o o nw a a t

A b a l a nc e d s t r a t e g y f o r o p i um e l i m i na t i o n b a s e d o n a l t e r na t i ve d e ve l o p m e nt , d e m a nd r e d uc t i o n a nd l a w e nf o r c e m e nt , w he r e t he k e y e l e m e nt i s p r o vi s i o n o f t i m e l y a nd s uf f i c i e nt a l t e r na t i ve s

P r o b l e m s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h d r ug a d d i c t i o n a nd f a i l ur e t o i m p l e m e nt na t i o na l p o l i c i e s a nd i nt e r na t i o na l c o m m i t m e nt s

C o mb in in g s c ie n c e a n d lo c a l k n o w le d g e ( S L U / IC R A F / N A F R I & N IS F )

D o m e s t i c a t i o n o f b a m b o o p r o d uc t i o n a nd o t he r i nt e r - ve nt i o ns g ui d e d b y a k no w l e d g e b a s e d s ys t e m s a p p r o a c he s ; c o m b i na t i o n o f l o c a l a nd s c i e nt i f i c k no w l e d g e i n f a r m e r f i e l d s c ho o l s a nd p a r t i c i p a t o r y w a t e r s he d m a n a g e m e n t a c t i vi t i e s i n vo l vi n g l o c a l a n d e xt e r na l s t a k e ho l d e r s

L a nd d e g r a d a t i o n, d e c l i ni ng c r o p yi e l d s a nd f o o d i ns e c ur i t y r e s ul t i ng f r o m f o r e s t c o nve r s i o n t o i nt e ns i ve l y c r o p p e d f a r m l a nd

D e t e c t i o n o f c o ve r a nd l a nd us e c ha ng e s a nd F o re s t c o v e r c h a n g e in N a m i n- d e p t h i nt e r vi e w s w i t h l o c a l vi l l a g e r s t o Et Phouy Leuy und e r s t a nd t he c a us e s o f t he s e c ha ng e s a nd (NUOL /F F ) t he e f f e c t s o f N B C A d e l i ne a t i o n o n vi l l a g e V o n g vi s o u k l i ve l i ho o d s

L o s s o f f o r e s t c o ve r a nd i ns uf f i c i e nt und e r s t a nd i ng o f t he c a us e s o f f o r e s t c o ve r a nd l a nd us e c ha ng e

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

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S o lu tio n

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Oth e r p o lic y re la te d d ia g n o s is a n d s o lu tio n (c o n tin u e d )

L iv e lih o o d s in K a tu v illa g e s , S e k o n g A lto n e t a l.

R e c o m m e nd a t i o ns f o r i m p r o ve m e nt s i n p l a nni ng m e t ho d o l o g y f o r p o ve r t y a l l e vi a t i o n a nd e m e r g e nc y r e s p o ns e i n r ur a l a r e a s

Ins uf f i c i e nt und e r s t a nd i ng o f t he s o c i o c ul t ur a l - e c o no m i c c o nt e xt o f r ur a l p o ve r t y a nd i na d e q ua c i e s i n c ur r e nt e m e r g e nc y r e s p o ns e c a p a c i t y a nd d e l i ve r y s ys t e m s

H o w d o w e k n o w a s o lu tio n ( L S U A F R P / N A F R I) R a i nt r e e

A s ys t e m a t i c a p p r o a c h t o t he r e c o g ni t i o n o f up l a nd s o l ut i o ns t ha t a vo i d s c o m m o n p i t f a l l s , d e f i ne s a s e a r c h f r a m e f o r a p p r o p r i a t e s o l ut i o ns a nd p r o vi d e s a s b a s i s f o r a n o ng o i ng i nve nt o r y o f up l a nd s o l ut i o ns

L a c k o f c l a r i t y a b o ut t he c ur r e nt i nve nt o r y o f up l a nd s o l ut i o ns

In s titu tio n a l s o lu tio n a n d imp le me n tin g me c h a n is m s P a rtic ip a to ry s e e d s o u rc e man ag emen t ( L T S P / N A F R I) M o unl a m a i & R a ve ns b e c k

D e c e nt r a l i s e d s e e d s up p l y w i t h p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f l o c a l p e o p l e i n s e e d s o ur c e m a na g e m e nt , c o l l e c t i o n a nd m a r k e t i ng

C B F M N a m K h a n Wa t e r s h e d ( P A F O / L ua ng P r a b a ng ) S i a no uvo ng

C o m m uni t y- b a s e d f o r e s t r y a nd a g r o f o r e s t r y d e ve l o p m e nt ( a p a r t ne r s hi p b e t w e e n vi l l a g e r s , P o ve r t y a nd l o s s o f f o r e s t c o ve r g o ve r nm e nt o f f i c i a l s a nd c i vi c o r g a ni s a t i o ns )

F ru it tre e s (UA D C ) B ub b e l d a m & V o ng vi l a s a i

E xt e ns i o n a p p r o a c he s t o p r o m o t e f r ui t g r o w i ng

N e e d f o r a l t e r na t i ve s t o s l a s h- a nd b ur n a nd m a r k e t i ng c o ns t r a i nt s o n f r ui t t r e e g r o w i ng

F a rme r fie ld s c h o o l a n d gender ( N A F E S / FA O ) S i ha na t h & B a k e n

F a r m e r F i e l d S c ho o l a p p r o a c h f o c us e d o n m ul t i - d i s c i p l i na r i t y, us e o f g r o up a p p r o a c he s , o n- f a r m t e c hni c a l i nno va t i o n, a s s i s t a nc e i n r e m o vi ng c r i t i c a l b o t t l e ne c k s , a nd e m p o w e r m e nt t hr o ug h t r a i ni ng , f a c i l i t a t i o n a nd ne t w o r k i ng

D i f f i c ul t i e s o f r e a c hi ng w o m e n a nd d e a l i ng w i t h f a r m i ng s ys t e m s a s a w ho l e i n f o o d s e c ur i t y p r o g r a m m e s

S e k o n g D e v e lo p me n t (S E P -D E V ) M a ha xa y & C ha g no n

N e w i ns t i t ut i o na l a p p r o a c he s f o r i nt e g r a t e d r ur a l d e ve l o p m e nt

L a c k o f i m p a c t a nd s us t a i na b i l i t y o f e xt e r na l l y f und e d f i xe d - t e r m p r o j e c t s

S c a lin g u p ( C IA T ) P ho t a k ho un e t a l

F a r m e r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n a d a p t i ve r e s e a r c h w i t h ‘ ha r d t e c hno l o g i e s ’ a nd m a r k e t - c ha i n r e s e a r c h us i ng a n ‘ a g r o - e nt e r p r i s e d e ve l o p m e nt ’ a p p r o a c h

N e e d f o r ne w a p p r o a c he s t o d e a l w i t h t he d i ve r s i t y a nd c o m p l e xi t y o f up l a nd f a r m i ng s ys t e m s t hr o ug h i nt e g r a t i ng ne w t e c hno l o g i e s i nt o e xi s t i ng f a r m i ng s ys t e m s a nd m a k i ng m a r k e t s a c c e s s i b le

L a c k o f s e e d s up p l y i n up l a nd a r e a s

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Development riddles Riddle No.1: When is a solution not a solution? Answer No.1: When it causes more problems than it solves. Answer No.2: When it is not adopted by the intended beneficiaries. It is not yet clear whether sugar cane and rubber production are among the examples of Answer No.1, but from the controversy surrounding them, it is fairly clear that following are: 

Relocation of populations and village merging



Certain Land Use Planning/Land Allocation implementation practices

The many problems that arise when attempting to apply these policy solutions are policy implementation problems. We understand them as such. However, when a policy can be identified as a contributing cause to so many problems, it might be more cost effective to change the policy.

Laos is going to have enough problems coping with spontaneous migration: it does not need to add fuel to the fire. For examples of Answer No.2, we may cite: 

Some exotic conservation-oriented cropping practices (like certain versions of alley cropping, SALT, mulch farming, etc.) in which the critical conservation feature (e.g. the hedgerow, the ground cover) does not directly produce an economic product.

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR



Any solutions that are too labour-intensive or too information-intensive (i.e. too hard or too complicated) to be easily adopted by the average farmer.

Riddle No.2: When is a problem not a problem? Answer: When it is part of a solution. A first example of this is the misdiagnosis of ‘insufficient’ household rice production when a household has a rice buying strategy. This is basically a problem of inaccurate diagnosis or over-enumeration of problems when interpreting statistically data. For example, here is some data from a household survey. Wealth Category

Average months production insufficiency

1

3.2

2

3.3

3

4.4

4

3.0

5

7.2

It would appear from this summary data that members of wealth category No.1, the richest households in the community, have almost as many months of rice insufficiency as members of wealth category No. 4, the second poorest households in the community.

In fact, a closer look at the data on households in wealth category No.1 reveals that some 14% of these households report that they do not produce enough rice for their family for 12 months of the year! What is going on here? In fact, the data on “Household Livelihood Strategy” reveals that these particular households have no intention of growing their own rice. Their strategy is to purchase all of their household rice supplies with money earned from cash crops, livestock and NTFPs. In fact, only 38% of the households sampled in this survey try to produce all of their own rice. Most have a mixed strategy of growing some rice and buying the rest. This result cannot be generalised to the rural population as a whole, but it may be fairly indicative of households located near roads with reasonably good access to markets. ‘Insufficiency’ of this type is not a problem because it is part of the household’s total food supply solution, livelihood strategy and household economy. Most (but not all) households in Laos have the ideal of being able to eat rice every day of the year. Typical household strategies for achieving this objective are: Strategy 1 - To grow own rice 

Grow rice in paddy



Grow rice in hai Strategy 2 - To get money to buy rice



Collect NTFPs to sell for money to buy rice



Grow cash crops to sell for money to buy rice



Raise small livestock to sell for money to buy rice



Produce cottage industry products to sell for money to buy rice



Engage in trade to get money to buy rice

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Sell family labour for money to buy rice Strategy 3 - To go into debt to get rice



‘Borrow’ rice from relatives and neighbours (loose reciprocity)



Receive rice ‘loan’ that has to be paid back (strict reciprocity) Strategy 4 - To substitute other staple food (fail safe strategy)



Collect wild foods to eat



Grow other foods to eat (e.g. root crops, mak duay, etc.)



Get money to buy other (cheaper) foods to eat

It is not until after you have understood the household’s livelihood strategy that you can know whether insufficiency of own-produced rice is a problem or part of a solution. That is why aggregate statistical description is not a substitute for careful diagnostic analysis which distinguishes different kinds of households. The second example of a ‘problem’ that is not a problem because it is part of a solution is: 

Long-fallow shifting cultivation with enriched fallow crops and NTFPs

Scientific objectivity dictates that we acknowledge that under circumstances of sufficient land for adequate fallow periods, shifting cultivation itself can be a viable solution to the problem of poverty reduction (or avoidance) in the uplands of Laos. There is a reason why shifting cultivation has been the dominant form of cultivation for long periods of time in the early developmental stages of agriculture on nearly every continent on this earth. If one listens objectively to reports from the field, and combines this information with careful analysis of satellite data, one must acknowledge that in Laos today there are places where long-fallow shifting cultivation is still viable: where forest cover is stable, where rice scarcity is unknown, and where real poverty is far less than in many of the overcrowded villages of the lowlands. Perhaps one should not try to fix something that is not broken. More to the point, there are indications coming from this workshop that wildlife, NTFP’s, and agro-biodiversity are most abundant in secondary forest fallows and that there are intelligent ways of managing long fallow rotational cropping systems that are highly productive and, at the same time, highly protective of the natural gifts of the Lao uplands.

Author Dr. John Raintree is the Senior Socio-economic Adviser for the Lao-Swedish Upland Agriculture and Forestry Research Program (LSUAFRP), PO Box 4298, Vientiane, Lao PDR, email: [email protected]

Bibliography Roland Cheo. An Evaluation of the Impact of Rubber Trees in China on the Rural Economy with Specific Focus on Xishaungbanna, Yunnan and Hainan Island. http:// natureproducts.net/Ecology/Rubber/Rubber.htm

Shifting Cultivation and Poverty Eradication in the Uplands of the Lao PDR

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