Eco-Friendly Intensification and Climate-resilient Agricultural Systems
Over the past decades a large range of technical options have been tested successfully in the northern uplands of Lao PDR to support the transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture. For example, incorporating legume crops in association or rotation with upland rice and maize can improve soil fertility and reduce soil erosion while controlling pest and weed pressure on the crops. These eco-friendly practices also contribute to climate change mitigation by accumulating carbon in the soil and adaptation by buffering the erratic climate events (both droughts and heavy rainfalls) thanks to the soil coverage with crop residues.
These solutions to a sustainable intensification of upland agriculture are well known by most development stakeholders, including village communities, yet they are not spontaneously adopted. The reasons for low adoption are often not related to the cropping techniques themselves but to external causes, such as the roaming cattle and buffaloes that damage cover crops, the limited knowledge of existing market outlets, or simply because farmers find it less labor consuming to till their land or to use chemical products instead of organic practices. Innovation is not a straightforward process.
The EFICAS Project (2014-2017) aims at developing innovative methods and intervention approaches to support farmers’ adoption of climate smart agricultural systems based on Conservation Agriculture in Laos PDR. Field activities are conducted in target villages of Luang Prabang, Houaphanh and Phongsaly Provinces, involving 3 core components: 1. Village landscape management: Engaging village communities in designing low-carbon emission strategies, 2. Participatory innovation networks: Engaging development stakeholders in testing agroecological practices adapted to local contexts, 3. Multi-stakeholder communication platform: Creating an enabling environment to broad scale dissemination of alternative production systems through participatory learning approaches, and formulation of evidence-based policies.
EFICAS uses a landscape approach to simultaneously contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, food security, livelihood opportunities, biodiversity conservation and cultural and recreational needs. Landscape approaches emphasize adaptive management, stakeholder involvement, and multiple objectives. These principles differ from more traditional sectoral and project-based approaches.
Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems, including provisioning services such as food, water, timber, and fiber; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling.
The expected impacts of the project are as follows:
- Resistance to drought through increased surface mulch, and increased organic restitutions to soils, which improves soil moisture retention, soil organic matter and water holding capacity.
- Reduced risk of erosion during heavy rains through the use of anti-erosion practices such as the use of mulch, grass strips, and agroforestry practices.
- Reduced yield fluctuations between dry and wet years through increased soil moisture retention, and integrated weed management.
- Reduced profit fluctuations between dry and wet years through the diversification of farm and off-farm activities.
- Enhanced capacity to cope with the emergence of new pests and diseases through an increased functional biodiversity and integrated pest management (IPM) techniques.
Partners and donors
EFICAS is funded by the European Union and the French Development Agency (AFD) and implemented by the Department of Agricultural Land Management (DALaM) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF, Lao PDR) in partnership with CIRAD (International Centre for Agricultural Research for Development, France).
Mr. Chantasone Khamxaykhay & Dr. Pascal Lienhard Department of Agricultural Land Management (DALaM) Dong Dok Campus Email: [email protected]