Laos’ opium farmers asked to turn to vegetables

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poppiesFarmers in Laos’ impoverished northwestern province of Oudomxay, the regional crossroads of the Laos opium trade, have reportedly been encouraged by a project to switch from poppy to growing organic vegetables.

The project, run by the Lao government, Thailand’s Royal Project Foundation and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, is launching in the district’s Lak Sip village, with the Thai organisation providing seeds and offering workshops on organic vegetable cultivation.

Acting Chairman of the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision, Kou Chansina, said Lak Sip village was once filled with fields of opium poppies.

“But farmers won’t go back to growing opium poppies once they have an income from selling organic vegetables,” he said.

Ten of the 120 families in the village are model families for the project, setting an example to others in the village and across the country. The project is preparing to expand its membership and the amount of land under cultivation in the village to provide more produce to meet market demand.

Organically grown vegetables are becoming more and more in demand across the country for their health benefits. Some of the farmers can earn up to 2 million Lao kip (S254) each month by selling more than 300 kilogrammes of vegetables to markets in Oudomxay province.

When former opium poppy growers have found sustainable work outside of the illicit industry, it is believed opium will gradually disappear from Laos. In 2012, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported opium cultivation was on the increase after Laos had declared itself virtually free of the practice in 2006.

Almost 27,000 hectares of opium poppies were growing in the country in 1998, which was reduced to just 1,500 hectares by 2006. However, in 2008 the area under cultivation was estimated at 1,600 hectares, and since then it has steadily increased to 1,900 hectares in 2009, 3,000 hectares in 2010, 4,100 hectares in 2011 and 6,800 hectares in 2012. A similar development went on in Myanmar.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Farmers in Laos’ impoverished northwestern province of Oudomxay, the regional crossroads of the Laos opium trade, have reportedly been encouraged by a project to switch from poppy to growing organic vegetables.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

poppiesFarmers in Laos’ impoverished northwestern province of Oudomxay, the regional crossroads of the Laos opium trade, have reportedly been encouraged by a project to switch from poppy to growing organic vegetables.

The project, run by the Lao government, Thailand’s Royal Project Foundation and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, is launching in the district’s Lak Sip village, with the Thai organisation providing seeds and offering workshops on organic vegetable cultivation.

Acting Chairman of the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision, Kou Chansina, said Lak Sip village was once filled with fields of opium poppies.

“But farmers won’t go back to growing opium poppies once they have an income from selling organic vegetables,” he said.

Ten of the 120 families in the village are model families for the project, setting an example to others in the village and across the country. The project is preparing to expand its membership and the amount of land under cultivation in the village to provide more produce to meet market demand.

Organically grown vegetables are becoming more and more in demand across the country for their health benefits. Some of the farmers can earn up to 2 million Lao kip (S254) each month by selling more than 300 kilogrammes of vegetables to markets in Oudomxay province.

When former opium poppy growers have found sustainable work outside of the illicit industry, it is believed opium will gradually disappear from Laos. In 2012, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported opium cultivation was on the increase after Laos had declared itself virtually free of the practice in 2006.

Almost 27,000 hectares of opium poppies were growing in the country in 1998, which was reduced to just 1,500 hectares by 2006. However, in 2008 the area under cultivation was estimated at 1,600 hectares, and since then it has steadily increased to 1,900 hectares in 2009, 3,000 hectares in 2010, 4,100 hectares in 2011 and 6,800 hectares in 2012. A similar development went on in Myanmar.

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