The participants of the competition presenting their prototypes.
Photo: Andrew Bartlett

15.09.2017

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Rural advisory services cannot (and should not) tell young people what to do; but they can point to options and then support them in implementing the paths they themselves have chosen. One of these paths is agricultural entrepreneurship – a very young concept for Laos. Our authors give an account of initial experiences.

The national census for Laos shows that approximately one million people between the ages of 15 and 24 live in rural areas. Representing roughly 15 per cent of the total population of this land-locked country in South East Asia, rural youth are crucial to the future of agriculture, but mostly ignored by development programmes. The rapid transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture in Laos has been accompanied by increased connectivity (e.g. roads, phones, social media), which has brought both opportunities and problems for young people.

Compared to their parents, rural youth are better informed, increasingly mobile, and have access to a wider range of products. But they are also more exposed to the threat of trafficking, drugs, and debt, and are more likely to leave the village.

The Lao Upland Rural Advisory Service (LURAS) is a Swiss-funded programme implemented by Helvetas and the Department of Agricultural Extension and Cooperatives.

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