The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Lao government have reinforced their three decade long partnership in research by expanding the institute’s role in increasing Laos’ food and nutrition security.
An agreement was signed in Vientiane on Monday by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham, and IRRI’s Director General, Mr Matthew Morrell.
The agreement will allow for continued collaborative research between the two bodies that will contribute significantly to the development of the sector.
“This strong partnership is now further solidified with the signing of the Host Country Agreement between our two parties,” the Deputy Minister stated.
Mr Morrell added, “we are elated by our renewed partnership with Laos; our work in Laos over the decades has yielded great results and we look forward to continuing that work,”.
The longstanding partnership between Laos and IRRI was formed in 1987, when the first memorandum of agreement was signed. With the agreement intensifying in the 1990’s, Laos’ rice sector transformed from being pure subsistence to commercial production.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Laos achieved rice self-sufficiency when total rice production hit more than 2 million tonnes in 1999. In 2012 and 2013, rice production exceeded an astounding 3 million tonnes.
Current initiatives between Laos and IRRI include the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE), which aims to reduce risks and improve livelihoods within the country, as well as neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, specifically Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar.
CURE aims to empower farmers in challenging environments, to improve their rice production and livelihoods by introducing climate-ready technologies that will raise rice productivity in less than ideal environments, especially in areas where crops suffer from torrential downpours.
Laos is one of the major rice producers amongst the Asean countries, with annual rice exports to Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries around the globe.
However, Lao rice varieties are still in need of increased standards and productivity compared to other Asean countries, especially Thailand and Vietnam.