The French government has provided grant assistance of over 14 billion kip (EUR 1.5 million) to fund a tea value-chain project in Laos.
The three-year project is aimed at improving the quality of life and earnings of small-scale tea producers and developing a regulatory structure for the tea supply chain in Laos.
A financing agreement for the project was signed on Wednesday between the Lao government and Agence Française de Développement (AFD). The agreement was signed by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury, Ambassador of France to Laos Mrs Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, and AFD Country Director Mr Matthieu Bommier.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr Kikeo said “The government of the Lao PDR highly values the support of the French government through AFD’s projects, which focus on the sectors of agriculture, cultural preservation and justice.
The signing ceremony today for the tea value-chain project will add to the expansive Lao-AFD portfolio and further contribute to the strengthening of bilateral cooperation between the Lao and French governments.”
Ambassador Jeanblanc-Risler said “The quality of tea from northern Laos is already recognised by international tea experts, especially thanks to unique varieties of wild tea and ancient tea. Another special quality of Lao tea is that it is mainly grown by smallholder farmers, often women from smaller ethnic groups. As a consequence, tea represents a significant potential for local and inclusive economic development.”
Also addressing the ceremony, Mr Bommier said “Tea ecosystems in northern Laos are particularly valuable because they can provide services such as carbon capture, biodiversity preservation, and soil and water conservation. Adopting agro-ecological practices for tea production such as composting and agroforestry can thus contribute to improved climate resilience.”
The EUR 1.5 million project will focus on two key components. The first component aims to initiate and develop a strategic review of the governance of the supply chain, promoting the emergence of a national alliance among stakeholders.
The project will also focus on the inclusive governance of the supply chain through improved management of expertise and information sharing, and communication and marketing, to draw up a national strategic plan.
The second component will support two pilot initiatives in two districts in northem Laos: Meung district in Bokeo province (with the support of MHP-Maeying Hiamchai Phattana – a local non-profit association) and Xaysathan district in Xayaboury province.
The project will support the organisation of producers, the improvement of tea production and processing, the certification process, and marketing.
The French NGOs GRET and AVSF have been selected to support the Department of Agriculture in carrying out the project.