Project Overview

Development goal:  To contribute to a high level of food security, reduced poverty in rural areas, inclusive economic growth, better productivity and profitability of agriculture/forestry through effective extension services.

Project objective: To contribute to the development of a decentralised, participatory, pluralistic and sustainable agricultural extension system that is capable of benefiting poorer households and communities, and reaches male and female farmers equally.




Budget (CHF)









The ‘Pilot Phase’ of LEAP saw the development and testing of a participatory extension process in 3 Provinces.  At the same time, a team of Master Trainers based at NAFES was receiving on-the-job training and the Basic Tools Handbook was written as a guide for extension workers.







During the ‘Expansion Phase’, the LEA was adopted by MAF, and the Master Trainers started to introduce the approach into 14 other Provinces. A new information centre was constructed at NAFES, LEAP took on the role of Secretariat to the Sub-Sector Working Group on Farmers and Agribusiness, and increased attention was given to extension materials and communication activities.





The ‘Alignment Phase’ continued to support the scaling up of the LEA, while at new phase was being prepared that would align with new MAF policy and structures. LEAP also signed it’s first partnership agreement with a Non-Profit Association (NPA).







The ‘Refinement Phase’ saw the completion of the expansion process and the development of LEA+, with a number of new activities to strengthen farmer organisations, facilitate market linkages and promote the role of women. There were also further collaboration with NPAs. Impact studies were carried out, and support was given to the formulation of the new NAFES strategy (2011-20).







The ‘Completion Phase’ involves the conclusion of all field activities, support for the organizational transition from NAFES to the newly created Department for Agricultural Extension and Cooperatives (DAEC), and capitalization of experience from the past 12 years.

CHF = Swiss Francs (in Millions)

The Lao Extension Approach (LEA) is at the heart of the project. The approach was piloted during Phase I, scaled up during phase II and refined during Phases II and IV.

The LEA is a framework for implementing extension activities in Lao PDR that was endorsed by MAF in 2005. The approach can be understood in terms of one vision, two concepts and three features, or ‘1-2-3’ for short.

The LEA has an inclusive vision, expressed in the phrase ‘Extension for Everyone’. Extension is for all farmers: rich and poor, men and women, from all ethnic groups, and regardless of literacy and educational level.

In order to translate vision into action, the LEA takes account of two concepts that are highly relevant to the Lao context: decentralisation and pluralism.

Decentralisation is a central tenet of the Government’s development policy. It means that Government assistance to farmers is planned and organised at the lowest possible level, with district staff responding to needs identified at the village level, provinces supporting the efforts of the districts, and coordination and capacity building at central level.

Pluralism is a consequence of both decentralization and the diversity of conditions in rural Laos. Pluralism means that different types of extension activities take place in different places, and many different actors should play a role in the provision of extension services, including the Government, the private sector and civil society organisations.

The three operational features of the LEA which distinguish it from other extension approaches are as follows:

  • Participatory: the LEA involves rural people in planning and organization their own development activities;
  • Needs-based: extension subject matter is based on an analysis of local constraints and opportunities;
  • Group-based: extension services are delivered through farmer groups, with voluntary membership open to all.

 Target areas of LEAP - LEAP activities were implemented throughout the country covering all 17 Provinces and in more than 40 districts. Target areas of LEAP that was covered in different phases are shown below