Agricultural transformations and market linkages

In South-East Asia, agricultural systems have been shifting very rapidly towards more commercial systems. This is especially true in the Lao PDR, where commercial agriculture has been promoted by the government since the late 1990s as a means to fight poverty.

In recent years, this transition towards commercial agriculture extended to the most remote areas, supported by the development of infrastructure, agro-business investments, credit provision, etc. On the one hand, new large-scale commercial enterprises are set up in many regions based on capital, technology intensive and labor-saving systems, notably as a result of renewed investments in agriculture. On the other hand, family farmers are becoming more market-oriented and provide the largest share of agricultural products marketed on domestic and export markets. They represent the overwhelming majority of farm units and employment. In this context, fostering collective action and collaborative market-oriented models for small-scale farmers, which has, since its creation, been a strong component of the MALICA platform, is of high interest for policy makers. Increasing concerns and efforts are observed towards ensuring more sustainable agricultural systems, with climate change adaptation being a major driver.

Below are research questions that MALICA intends to address under this topic:

  • How to understand the transition and innovations at production level (production scale, agricultural practices, territorial management, land use planning, local resource management) towards market-oriented and industrial, large-scale production systems? Which roles do different types of public private partnerships and forms of investment play?
  • Can this transition be managed in a favorable way for the livelihoods of small-scale farmers?
  • What business models can efficiently link small-scale farmers to markets in ways that account for social, environmental and economic concerns, including in particular the risks of exclusion of the poor?
  • How can collective action among producers contribute to these business models and under which types of arrangements (producer groups, cooperatives, associations, agricultural clusters, etc.
  • How is the transition towards agro-ecological practices and climate change adaptation at farming level linked to downstream value chain transformations?

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