By Florante Villas
Farmers Association of Khangvieng Zone (FAKZ) and AsiaDHRRA held a joint planning workshop for a project “Enhancing capacities of 3,000 farmers in organic rice production and marketing.” Attended by officers and farmer-leaders from 9 villages in Khangvieng, the planning workshop facilitated a unity of understanding between and among members and leaders of FAKZ, Community Development of Environment Association (CDEA), FAKZ’s partner agri-agency, the local government unit of Khangvieng and AsiaDHRRA last May 16, 2014 in Khangvieng Zone Office in Pek District, Xiengkhouang Province in Laos. FAKZ was briefed on the reporting and financial guidelines required by AsiaDHRRA and the donor organization. A general implementation plan and schedules of activities were also agreed.
On this occasion AsiaDHRRA and Farmers Association of Khangvieng Zone (FAKZ) also signed an agreement of cooperation for the FAKZ project entitled “Enhancing capacities of 3,000 farmers in organic rice production and marketing.” AsiaDHRRA agreed to finance the implementation of the project under the Farmers’ Fighting Poverty Programming of AgriCord, with support from the Dutch government under the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
Kum Khangvieng or Khangvieng zone is part of Peck district, Xiengkhouang province. It is 35 kilometers from Phonsavanh City, capital of Xingkhouang in the northern part of Laos, where mountains cover around 85% of the area.
Khangvieng is among the hundreds of poor rural communities in Xingkhouang Province and in Lao PDR. The community has limited access to water during the dry season, forcing women and children to walk long distance to fetch water for their homes. For cooking and warming purposes people use fire wood from the forest. Every year after rice harvest children and women have to spend about 30 days in the forest to cut trees for fire wood. Approximately 20-30 cubic meters of fire wood that each household use for cooking and heating every year.
In 2011, the Community Development for Environment Association (CDEA) initiated a project in Mieng village aimed at providing clean and potable water supply and improve sanitation. The project organized a project management committee. With the jump-start project, members of the community managed to create the Community Development Fund (CDF) at the village. The CDF has now accumulated around 40,000,000 Kip (US$5,000). Villagers can borrow money from CDF to carry out income activity then pay acceptable interest 1% per month, for illness 0.5%, for children going to school 0.5%.
The Khangvieng Farmers Association was then established. With a good track record, the local government office of Kum-Khangvieng, proceeded to approve and register the establishment of Farmer Association in Khangvieng Zone (KAKZ) and was approved subsequently by the Pek District Authority on 21 March 2012. FAKZ FO covers 9 villages namely: (1) Bane Mieng, (2) Nalam, (3) Phonh-thaong, (4) Bane Lao, (5) Bane Phay-Ngam, (6) Bane khangvieng (7) Bane Manh-Somg, (8) Bane Pungpanh, (9) Bane Sykhoune. Khum-Khangvieng Farmer Association focus on organic farming in order to protect environment, improve and diversify agricultural production, establish enterprises and find ways and means to help members adapt to climate change.
The overall objective is “to improve living conditions of people in target communities according to the government’s MDGs for poverty reduction” and facilitate the over-all strengthening of FAKZ services to members as well as other farmers in Khangvieng. Specifically, the project aims to 1) Enhance the capacities of 600 lead producers in the production of quality organic rice for members to comply with organic rice quality standards and provide extension, coaching and mentoring services to more than 3,000 farmers in Pek District; 2) Form and strengthen organic and brown rice collectives to achieve economy of scale in marketing and benefit from better marketing terms (premium price, cash on delivery payment terms, realistic delivery schedules, better milling services and logistical support, lasting business/marketing relations with markets, and Increase incomes of 3,000 member organic rice producers of FAKZ by 15% to 20%.