Gender analysis of economic land concessions in Cambodia and in Northern Laos: Case of rubber plantations


Kyoko Kusakabe



Asian Institute of Technology Thailand

Kyoko Kusakabe is Professor of Gender and Development Studies at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand. She has over 20 years of experience in research and teaching gender and development in Asia, especially focusing on the Mekong Subregion.

Key Takeaways

    How To Apply Insights

    • Stop renting out economic concessions to private companies. There often carried out at a detriment to local people.
    • Monocropping has negative impacts on communities, focusing on diverse plantation is important but little research is being done on how to sustain communities in this manner. In the case of Laos, where contracts are not being enforced.

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    About this research

    Land grabbing, conflict and agrarian‐environmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia

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    Findings & Research Conclusions

    In Cambodia, there was no option for farmers to have contracts with the company that took over from the land concessions, as the indigenous land use system was not recognised. All villagers lost large chunks of their land, but women lost almost all of their land. Women lost their customary land rights during the rubber concession and land registration. Loss of land has left women more housebound while men engage in wage labour.

    In Laos, arrangement have been diverse often dependent on difficulty of the terrain and complex local governance system. Initial idea was good. However implementation has not gone smoothly. Rented out to a Chinese company which works faster and more efficiently but often leaves villagers left behind.  More farmers planted rubber privately and they had more negotiation power with the company. Women’s work load increased, often engaging in wage labour, however their decision making power has not seemed to increase alongside workload.

    In both cases the state facilitated the private company investment and land concessions.

    Research's methodology

    130 households as part of the Cambodian study with 10 follow up in-depth interviews and a group discussion. In Laos, 8 villagers were studied with 306 respondents with a following two rounds of in-depth interviews.


    The situation changes rapidly, so active monitoring is important. The research was conducted during a price decrease in rubber, so the Chinese company were not enforcing contracts strictly, this could change in the future however.

    PrecarityAlready vulnerable communities are forces into precariousness due to government policies reducing access to land and resources.

    Reference this research

    Kusakabe, K. (2015). ‘Gender analysis of economic land concessions in Cambodia and in Northern Laos: Case of rubber plantations.’

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