G.8    
 
Average size of agricultural land per household    
 

The average size of agricultural land per household is the size of the total parcels of land used by the total number of owners for agriculture. In other words, the size of land that the households use as described in the previous Map G.7.  In this Map G.8 the legend shows the categorisation of the various land sizes used by households as less than 1 hectare, between 1 and 2 hectares, 2 and 3 hectares, 3 and 4 hectares and more than 4 hectares.  In a country where agricultural subsistence still plays a key economic role, the average size of agricultural land is a crucial indicator for the measurement of the sustainability of livelihoods of rural households.

If a household has access to a large piece of land then the risk of an insufficient supply of food and a loss of income is small. However if the average size of agricultural land per household is less than 1 hectare this indicates food insecurity at both the provincial and national levels. It should also be borne in mind that other factors such as the type and the intensity of agriculture, the inputs used, labour availability, etc. are also important and that a considerable proportion of farmers in the Lao PDR still do not practise permanent agriculture. Although many of these farmers may have small plots they still rely on the customary access to fallow land, which is not measured by this indicator. Furthermore, many people engage in other activities which are important in terms of their subsistence, such as animal husbandry, collecting of wild and forest products, hunting, etc.

According to the results of the Population and Housing Census of 2005 the average size of agricultural land throughout the country is 2.11 hectares. The spatial patterns depicted in Map G.8 show two general trends. On the one hand we see a general increase in the size of farm-land from the mountainous areas with land sizes below the national average to the lowlands along the Mekong plains with land sizes significantly above the national average. While on the other hand we can see distinctive differences between provinces which are assumed to have comparable agro-ecological potential. For example in Luangprabang the average agricultural land size is 2.26 hectares whereas in neighbouring Huaphanh this is 0.77 hectares. 

The second observable pattern is most probably due to the different provincial policies regarding land ownership and marketing. As described in Map G.7, land in Huaphanh has not yet been de-collectivised and thus the agricultural land available to individual households is limited. In Luangprabang province, access to larger plots of land seems easier.

The pattern showing increasing land sizes going from the high to the lowlands can be attributed to the definition of the indicator itself, which focuses on permanent agriculture. Furthermore, two important factors could explain the increase. The first is the availability of the total land suitable for agriculture including its quality in terms of topography and soils. The second is the availability of labour and machinery for agricultural cultivation. Many upland households may be seriously constrained by the work force available (cf. dependency ratios on Map B.5) but also by the lack of machinery and capital.

 

 

 


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