VIENTIANE, LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $21 million loan to help the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) commercialize smallholder livestock farming to meet rising domestic and external demand for quality meat products and to make the industry more humane, safe and environmentally sustainable.

“Smallholder farmers raise more than 95% of the country’s livestock but they operate in a largely unregulated environment with fragmented value chains, which undermines their ability to maximize income from livestock operations,” said Sandra Nicoll, ADB’s Lao Resident Mission Country Director. “This assistance will help link them into livestock value chains both locally and abroad, opening up new markets and opportunities, which are expected to grow sharply with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.”

Currently smallholder farmers have no problems selling their livestock, but traders are unable to obtain enough animals within the country to meet demand and are increasingly sourcing additional supplies from Thailand. The slaughtering of animals is also done in an informal manner with untreated waste disposed into the natural environment, raising concerns about food safety and pollution, as well as animal welfare.

The Northern Smallholder Livestock Commercialization Project will be carried out in 12 districts in the four northern provinces of Houaphanh, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang and Xiengkhouang. Activities will include training for smallholder livestock production and marketing groups, traders, butchers and other stakeholders to improve livestock rearing and humane handling, meat quality, sanitation and food safety standards. Equipment and materials will be provided to boost livestock production, and for slaughtering and meat processing facilities.

Training in business skills will also be provided to smallholder livestock groups to increase their ability to tap finance and market their products at home and abroad. As women often play a central role in livestock rearing, they stand to gain the majority of the benefits from the project. More commercial production of livestock and greater involvement in value chains by smallholder farmers is also likely to generate a range of new employment opportunities, particularly for poorer groups in the rural community, including women.

The project will build on the achievements of the recently completed Northern Region Sustainable Livelihoods through Livestock Development Project, which was co-financed by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and ADB. Along with ADB, IFAD is expected to provide cofinancing of $10 million, and the Government of Lao PDR counterpart assistance of $500,000 for total funding of $31.5 million. The project will run for about 6.5 years, through to December 2021.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including cofinancing of $6.6 billion.

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