The second paper I have at the 5th Lao Studies Conference is presented together with Dr. Nittana Southiseng.
A cluster is, simply defined, a supply chain in close geographical proximity. A supply chain is a series of activities that cause an upstream resource (i.e. raw materials) to move towards downstream consumers (i.e. retailers). Different parts of the supply chain add different levels of value to the process, usually in an inequitable manner so that some members benefit more than others. States wishing to promote rapid economic development (like Lao PDR) benefit from clusters because all sections of the value chain occur within their borders and so they can influence the distribution of benefits with a view to enacting long-term developmental goals. This paper reports on research conducted in cluster development of organic rice in Sangthong district, Vientiane capital of Lao PDR. The status of the development of Santhong organic rice is analysed, as well as its prospects for contributing to export growth. Problems identified include low levels of capital and technology, lack of capacity in technical issues and limited market development. Some recommendations are made to hope to improve the overall quality of cluster development and to derive lessons for other parts of the economy.
Keywords: clusters, Lao PDR, organic agriculture, organic rice.
The conference programme is now available online here.