LA16.004_Analyzing Impacts of Rubber Plantation on Poverty Reduction, Land Ownership and Natural Forest Resource in Northern, Lao PDR
NEW CONTRIBUTION OF THE THESIS
Topic of the thesis: Analyzing Impacts of Rubber Plantation on Poverty Reduction, Land Ownership and Natural Forest Resource in Northern, Lao PDR
Speciality: Economics Agriculture
PhD candidate: Houngphet Chanthavong
Supervisor: Assoc.Prof.Dr.Nguyen Thi Ngoc Huyen
New theoretical contributions
On the interview basis of 6 informant at the central level, 4 at the provincial level, 1 at the district level and 120 household Head in Sing district about impacts of rubber plantation on poverty reduction, land ownership and natural forest resource in northern Laos, this thesis has made new theoretical contribution:
1) The research has discovered that rubber plantation expansion in Northern Laos has not significantly improved local poor livelihood. About 40% of the poor have lack of spare land and fund to invest in rubber plantation. Although a long-term loan is available, it could be a high risk for them to increase a loan debt due to insufficient technical input for rubber plantation. Further more the investment may not be economically viable due to due to a high operation costs including those for maintaining and protecting from weed invasion, administration cost, and transportation.
2) The research affirms three types of impacts on land use and tenure. First, because the rubber project attempted to gain land access without providing compensation to owners, it caused a rush of land sales from the poor to local elites. Second, in targeting land that was used for shifting cultivation, the rubber project has begun to either displace agriculture to other areas or contributed to a large trend of livelihood de-agrarianization. Lastly, some protected areas are rezoned for rubber production.
3) The research reveals the natural dense forest cover has reduced from about 56% in 1991 to only about 40% in 2010 mainly due to the expansion of rubber plantation. The expansion has more than double increased from on 3000 ha in 2006 to about 7500 ha in 2010.
4) The research ascertains five reasons of the above negative impacts: local institution weakness in management of rubber plantation investment, inconsistent market price and long time of expected return, a lack of regular monitoring and evaluating on the investment on land, a flaw in procedure of investment proposal, and fewer opportunities to receive support from external aid for local livelihood development.
Recommendations frome the research findings
The expansion of rubber plantation has materially affected the local ownership over land, natural forest cover change and more likely bring benefit to the well off family with little benefit to the rural poor. It is recommended that immediate technical assistance at the provincial and district level are required. Natural resource management and land use planning need to be improved to minimize the impacts of wide spreading of land conversion for rubber plantation. This is to ensure achievement of poverty eradication and conservation of natural forests of Lao PDR.