This article is intended to be controversial, so don't be surprised. When I learned about a new casino in Lao province, the news was accompanied by remarks like "destroying the culture", "not sustainable", "to much chinese influence". I also know that there are many NGOs trying to give farmers more access to markets and promote their goods.
I am not a big fan of international NGOs. In general they waste money for administration and research, without having impact at all. They want to convert developing countries following their rules and ideologies. And: they never create sustainable jobs. Most NGO jobs are project related and limited in time.
When a casino is build in the province, it will easily create up to 200 -300 jobs. in housekeeping, accounting, restaurant, waiteer, maintanace, etc etc. All of these jobs are on a higher level than being a farmer. And casinos are a rising attraction, independent from natural desasters like floods and draughts. You may like a casino or not. But what foreign companies are doing in Laos is creating jobs. And this is what a country needs.
Organic farming is nice, but the market access is limited, the profit as well. It will not move the country out of poverty. As long as NGOs are not starting to develop businesses, it will be the job of chinese and other investors. The Lao government just announced to support companies who want to establish assembling factories. For cars and motobikes these are already here. And creating well paid jobs.