Accompanying the agrarian transition in Laos. Guillaume Lestrelin
Accompanying the agrarian transition in LaosOpportunities and challenges for conservation agriculture in maize production areas G. Lestrelin & J-C. Castella
Research Questions• CA deemed knowledge- and capital-intensive, hence poorly compatible with smallholder farming (e.g. Erenstein 2003; Bolliger et al. 2006; Giller et al. 2009)• Dissemination should concentrate on “socio-ecological niches” (Giller et al. 2009: 31) where CA is the most likely to be adopted by smallholders• Two questions: To what extent can CA compete with more conventional forms of agricultural intensification in a context of smallholder farming? What is the value of a “socio-ecological niche” approach to the dissemination of CA?
Research SitesSayaboury Xieng Khouang Two CA research and development initiatives active between 2003 and 2008:
Research Sites• From 2003 to 2008: • Network of experimentation and demonstration plots • Establishment of CA farmer groups (44 villages in Sayaboury and 17 villages in Xieng Khouang) • Technical support to farmers and extension agencies• Various direct seeding mulch-based cropping (DMC) systems disseminated, including: Maize mono with Associations Rotationsresidues management food - fodder crops grass - legume crops
Methods & Data• Exhaustive village censuses: on household composition, land, labor, capital, farm equipment, etc.• Questionnaire surveys: Sayaboury: Annual surveys (2005-2008) among 2084 households in 21 villages; data on household livelihoods and adoption of CA Xieng Khouang: Rapid and detailed surveys (2009) among 600 households in 20 villages; data on household livelihoods, farm economics and adoption of CA; re-study of farming systems 2003• Qualitative interviews and focus groups: Village histories, perceptions of the advantages and limits of CA, constraints for adoption and dissemination, etc.• Land cover and land use change analysis (LANDSAT)• Scenario analysis: Technical and economic simulations with Olympe software
Results• Contrasted situations – CA dissemination efforts – Topography and ecology Geomorphology of southern Sayaboury province Steep slopes Productive Mod. slopes Schists Productive Schists Steep slopes Erosion-prone Sandstone
Results • Similar transitions and driving forces – Strong market demand for maize (w/ Thailand and Vietnam) 1,200,000 1,000,000Maize production (tons) 800,000 Maize 600,000 boom 400,000 200,000 0 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Sayaboury Xieng Khouang Lao PDR
Results• Similar transitions and driving forces – Rapid agricultural expansion and intensification Land cover change in Xieng Khouang province (2002-2010) 2002 2006 2010 Forest land Upland crops (maize) Paddy rice
Results• Similar transitions and driving forces – Smallholder agriculture is still the norm Average rainfed land tenure per household Sayaboury (2008) 3 ha (1.1 – 5.3 ha) Xieng Khouang (2009) 2.2 ha (0.8 – 5.2 ha)
Four Agro-Ecological ZonesRepresentative of successive stages in a historical patternof land use intensification
Transition Stages & CA adoption Sayaboury Province (21 villages, n=2084) Xieng Khouang Province (9 villages, n=270) Agroecological transition (stages) Adoption* Extent of CA♣ Abandon♠ Adoption* Extent of CA♣ Abandon♠ (2008) (2008) (2004-2008) (2008) (2008) (2006-2008) Productive lands1 Subsistence Extensive systems - High adoption levels - - 4% 76% 8% Productive lands2 Commoditization Intensification 40% 50% 30% 27% 61% 11% Degrading lands3 Commercial agriculture Intensive monocropping 13% 31% 54% 13% 32% 55% Degraded lands Low adoption levels4 Diversification Intensive mixed systems 41% 65% ≠ 30% - - - Total 24% 53% 36% 12% 53% 21% * Percent of farming households ♣ Percent of total farmland among CA farmers ♠ Average abandon rate between year n and year n+1 of CA practice
Conclusions• Two critical windows of opportunity for CA-related interventions in the maize production areas of Laos – Early stage of commoditization and intensification of agriculture: “Attractive option for smallholders willing to engage in commercial agriculture with a limited increase in production costs” – Latest stage of land degradation and economic diversification: “Economically- and ecologically-sound alternative to conventional intensive monoculture”• No particular “socio-ecological niches” or “hotspots” for dissemination BUT key moments for intervention along specific agro-ecological transition pathways• Appropriate timing + adequate research and extension endeavours CA can become a viable and accepted alternative – even in a context of small-scale farming
Thank you! For further information: firstname.lastname@example.org ReferencesSlaats J, Lestrelin G (2009), Improving cropping systems by introducing Conservation Agriculture: Taking stock of the results and methodology of research-development in southern Sayaboury province, Lao PDR, PCADR, Vientiane, 115 p.Lestrelin G, Nanthavong K, Jobard E, Keophoxay A Khambanseuang C Castella J-C, Lienhard P (2011), “To till or not to till?” Opportunities and constraints to the diffusion of Conservation Agriculture in Xieng Khouang Province, Lao PDR, Outlook on Agriculture (in press).Lestrelin G, Tran Quoc H, Jullien F, Rattanatray B, Khamxaykhay C, Tivet F (2011), Conservation agriculture in Lao PDR: Diffusion and determinants for adoption of DMC systems in smallholder agriculture, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (under review).