A long stretch of road linking several provinces of Myanmar, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Viet Nam is home to many impoverished farmers. But things are slowly changing. Thanks to an improved road system, farmers now have an opportunity to distribute their agricultural products over long distances, reaching large, rich markets across the region. Farmers are also adding value to agricultural production through organic farming in order to raise their income. Once a marginal activity targeting niche markets, organic farming is becoming a mainstream business opportunity, meeting the demands of a rapidly expanding market.
VO: A long stretch of road linking several provinces of Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam forms the backbone of the so-called East-West Economic Corridor. The population living along the corridor is among the poorest in the countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion, or GMS.
But things are slowly changing.
Thanks to the long road that makes up the corridor, farmers now have an opportunity to distribute their agricultural products over long distances, reaching large, rich markets across GMS countries.
But better distribution is only half the battle won.
Adding value to agricultural production through organic farming is also an essential part of the strategy to raise income levels of local farmers. Once a marginal activity targeting niche markets, organic farming is becoming a mainstream business opportunity, meeting the demands of a rapidly expanding market.
The Asian Development Bank is supporting the development of this alternative agricultural production along the East-West Economic Corridor to help farmers take advantage of this growing economic opportunity.
SOT/ Rattanatay Luanglatbandith
Regional Cooperation Economist
This method can be adopted easily by small farmers, SMEs, without the need for a big investment. Any household, any family can start this by dividing their existing land. The demand for organic products is huge, not only for food, but also as raw materials.
VO: The so-called value chain concept was introduced to improve economic activities in the corridor. Value chains were developed by bringing together producers, collectors, processors, wholesalers and retailers into business clusters.
The East West Economic Corridor has great potential to create a multiplier effect on the economy, improving the living standards of the communities it connects. And local farmers are starting to see the opportunities.
Farmer in Savannakhet Province
Growing organic vegetables initially does not provide good yields but two or three years later, it will bear nice vegetables and good yields. It also eventually helps my family to be food self-sufficient.
VO: Landlocked communities along the thriving East-West Economic Corridor are becoming “landlinked” as they work together to integrate their economies thanks to the roads connecting them.