Address by Mr. Yves Carmona
The French Development Agency (AFD) celebrates this year its 20th anniversary of cooperation in Lao PDR. During all this time, agriculture and rural development has always been one of its main sectors of cooperation, to answer the request of Lao Government. The Northern Uplands Development Program (NUDP) is somehow the achievement of this cumulated experience, and, at the same time, a pilot program in the context of Lao PDR. Cofinanced with the European Union, the Swiss cooperation and the German cooperation, this program targets specifically this part of the country I had recently the opportunity to visit. I could realize the challenge of such an ambitious program : poverty reduction, sustaining agriculture on steep slopes, enhancing market efficiency in these remote areas, build capacity of various stakeholders…
By signing with the Government of Laos a new commitment, France with AFD is contributing with another €4M to the program to reinforce the field activities in order to improve the incomes of uplands farmers with better access to the market, basic services and extension services. This commitment has been taken during the Presidential visit to France last October and will entry into force now.
Two other important agreements were also signed during this visit : support to the “promoting Southern Laos heritage” project (€400 000), which has been immediately implemented, and a letter of intent for the extension of Lycée Josué Hoffet.
I expected to sign the convention allowing this extension altogether with the NUDP commitment. Due to practical factors, NUDP cannot wait any longer this signature. It remains wished that the extension of Josué Hoffet will soon follow, in conformity with the joint presidential statement of 22nd October which “welcomed the agreement of the Lao authorities for the extension of the Lycée français Josué Hoffet”.
The additional French funds for NUDP are firstly dedicated to the construction of small rural infrastructures to improve the access to the 250 villages targeted by the NUDP in Huaphanh, Luang Prabang and Phongsaly provinces and the living conditions of more or less 14,000 households. Secondly, in partnership with CIRAD, a French research centre, research will be implemented aiming at intensifying agriculture production based on agro-ecological principle building on what specialists call “conservation agriculture”. NUDP will also benefit from an extension of the program to mid 2016 and a second tranche of € 4M from the European Union delegated to AFD to continue to carry on the existing activities.