Cash crops in the uplands: th cardamom experience

19 Jun 2020 Authors: Olivier Ducourtieux, Phoui Visonnavong and Julien Rossard

Farmers are often blamed for destroying tropical forests, especially in the Lao PDR. Converting shifting cultivation into cash crop-based agriculture is recurrently presented as the solution merging forest protection and poverty alleviation. However, many attempts in the recent past have ended in failure.
The Rural Development Project of Phongsaly District (PDDP) has tried to introduce cardamom cultivation for export to China. With nearly 300 ha of transplanted cardamom, the crop now involves more than 75% of farmers in the region. Lessons can be drawn from this experience, especially regarding prerequisites. The first is to prioritise economic issues over agronomic matters, in particular identify markets, traders or commercial risks. The second lesson is to appraise how the new crop will fit into the farming systems, which are rationally managed by the different classes of farmer, in accordance with their means of production and socio-economic environment.


Olivier Ducourtieux, Phoui Visonnavong and Julien Rossard - English (329 KB)

Olivier Ducourtieux, Phoui Visonnavong and Julien Rossard