Households operating agricultural land


‘Households operating agricultural land’ are defined as those households which own or use land for agriculture as if they were the owners.  Taking into account the very high percentage of the population whose main activity is agriculture (see Map G.6) the importance of operating one’s own land becomes obvious: households which do not have access to their own land may be much more vulnerable to debt as a result of adverse weather or market conditions.

In the Lao PDR 67% of all households operate agricultural land, which they consider their own. In urban areas this rate is as high as 40.6% demonstrating the large amount of agriculture that is still taking place near or within cities and is probably as a result of the urban food demands.

Map G.7 illustrates that throughout the country the majority of households have access to agricultural land. However in some areas which are a lighter green colour on the map the percentage is lower therefore these areas are interesting.  Apart from the urban areas already described, there are exceptionally low percentages of households operating agricultural land in the province of Huaphanh.  Here very few farmers use land as if it were their own. The land is still used on a collective basis, as there has been no formal change in the land use policy.

To date ownership has not yet been handed over to the farmers themselves.  Furthermore some groups are still landless but rent land instead; paying in cash, crops, labour or by other means. The clear-cut differences in certain areas could at first sight be taken for a data error but on further consideration could be an impressive example of how policies may exert a strong influence on livelihoods and land use even in remote areas of the country.

In addition to the province of Huaphanh, in Luangnamtha and Bokeo provinces, in villages along the Vietnamese border of Borikhamxay and Savannakhet provinces, and in the south of Attapeu there are also areas with lower rates of households operating farm land.  Even though the exact reasons for this are difficult to ascertain the assumption is that in these forested and remote areas, shifting cultivation is still the main agricultural practice and few permanent fields exist. Since this type of cultivation uses land in rotation the land left fallow is often regarded as community land.  This is therefore used as dictated by custom, so it is easy to understand why these households do not consider the land to be their own.




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