Research and agricultural innovation in Lao PDR benefiting smallholders

LAO PDR RRCA team of researchers inspect samples of many different rice varieties at the Lao PDR Rice Research Center (RRC)

The RRC has identified more than 14,000 varieties of rice in Lao PDR – the greatest number of varieties of almost any nation on earth – and second only to India.

The RRC produces around 250 tonnes of regulated seeds yearly.

Rice farming comes naturally to the people of this country, and so does consumption. Researchers explain that the average household eats rice four times per day.

“Lao PDR might not be Asia’s largest producer of rice, but the yields are impressive,” said FAO director-general QU Dongyu. “The government estimates that up to one-million tonnes of rice are harvested each year. Impressive for a country of some seven million people.”

The country is now self-sufficient in rice production and it does a brisk border trade with the excess.

From rice to green vegetables

Around 700 families are working together in an organised way to grow a wide variety of produce, from broccoli and lettuce to mint and many other varieties. More than 60 per cent of the farmers at Thong Mang Organic Vegetable Farm are women.

“I am very impressed to see this organic farm in action and to meet the families working on it,” said QU Dongyu as he walked between rows of plants.  And, the venture has proved profitable too. In less than five years, the farmers’ incomes have grown ten-fold since the farm’s inception.

“I am impressed with what I have seen here in Lao PDR to transform and speed up the process of moving from LDC to a more prosperous nation,” said QU Dongyu. 


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