Laos agriculture

A landlocked country of 7 million between the Mekong River and Annamite Cordillera, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR or Laos) has the lowest population density in Southeast Asia.[1] Officially, over 81% of land is classified as forest, and only 6.5% is arable land.[2] Actual natural forest cover, however, is estimated by the government at 40%, with a target to increase to 70% by 2020.[3] Some of the remaining area, considered as “damaged forest”, is sloping land used for cultivation.

Most members of the 49 recognized ethnic minority groups in Laos have traditionally subsisted from shifting (swidden) agriculture and forest products. Patterns of land use have been transformed through population displacements during and after the Indochina wars;[4] government policies to eradicate opium and swidden cultivation;[5] and relocation of hundreds of thousands of residents to new villages closer to roads and public services.[6]

The government of the Lao PDR prioritizes economic growth and poverty alleviation through “sustainable development of the nation’s rich natural capital and land,” particularly through encouraging private investment and granting concessions of state land to investors.[7] Forest, land, water, and mineral resources together make up more than half of the country’s wealth.[8] The national strategy to “turn land into capital”[9] has brought mining, hydropower, and agri-business land concessions to large areas of rural Laos, frequently turning small-scale farmers into landless laborers in the process. This represents an unprecedented transfer of land access from farmers to foreign investors.[10]

Selected indicators

Total spending for agricultural reserch measured measured as a share of the value added from agriculture, forestry and fishing activities

Measurement unit: 
Percentage

Distribution of agricultural holders by sex (female - Share %) according to the FAO Land and Gender Database.

Measurement unit: 
Percentage

GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP GDP is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates.

Measurement unit: 
PPP$ 2011

Land area is the total area (1'000 Ha) of the country excluding area under inland water bodies.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 Ha

Total funding for programmes still ongoing in January 2016 (US $).

Measurement unit: 
US$ (Current)

Total number of programmes still ongoing in January 2016

Measurement unit: 
Number

Total population is based on the de facto definition of population, which counts all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship--except for refugees not permanently settled in the country

Measurement unit: 
Number

Rural population refers to the share (%) of people living in rural areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated as the ratio between Urban Population and Total Population.

Measurement unit: 
Percentage

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Total population is based on the de facto definition of population, which counts all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship--except for refugees not permanently settled in the country

Measurement unit: 
Number

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Total population is based on the de facto definition of population, which counts all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship--except for refugees not permanently settled in the country

Measurement unit: 
Number
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Arable land (1'000 Ha) is the land under temporary agricultural crops (multiple-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens

Measurement unit: 
1'000 Ha

It measures the area (1'000 Ha) covered by forest.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 Ha

Land area is the total area (1'000 Ha) of the country excluding area under inland water bodies.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 Ha

Permanent crops (1'000 Ha) - land cultivated with long-term crops which do not have to be replanted for several years (such as cocoa and coffee); land under trees and shrubs producing flowers, such

Measurement unit: 
1000 Ha

Permanent meadows and pastures - land used permanently (five years or more) to grow herbaceous forage crops, either cultivated or growing wild (wild prairie or grazing land).

Measurement unit: 
1000 Ha

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