- biodiversity conservation, agroecosystems,
- responsible investment,
Responsible investment in Laos: the Case of Rubber Industry Development
During my fellowship at CSEAS I intend to prepare a book on rubber development and responsible investment in Laos. For almost 20 years, as a co-founder of the National Agriculture and Research Institute (NAFRI) I have been working to address agricultural and forestry research strategies and leading the implementation of four research programs: agriculture biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, productivity improvement, climate change adaptation and agriculture policy research. At present, I work for the Lao Rubber Association. Booming Rubber production in Laos during the period of 2005-15 due to a high price and increasing demand for natural rubber was an investment promotion scheme alongside hydroelectric dams and mining. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in rubber production from China, Vietnam and Thailand by land concession grants from the government significantly contributed to the development of the rubber industry. Through FDI, the majority of rubber production areas in Laos have been developed through concessions to foreign companies and they comprise about 70% with only 30% owned by smallholders. As such, rubber production has caused many issues and challenges in regards to food security, land, labor and livelihood, and toward the environment. Production has rapidly penetrated the country and at different levels, government was not ready nor well prepared for developments. The policy of the foreign investment in rubber and rubber importing countries also play a crucial role in rubber sustainable development in rubber producing countries. This research will highlight the challenges in rubber industry development in Laos and based on evidence, attempt to make policy recommendations to the government for better governance and management for sharing fair benefits among stakeholders in this sector.