Rapid change in the Mekong region coupled with recent shocks to global food, fertiliser, and fuel prices have accentuated the risks and challenges facing farmers engaged in rice-based farming systems, particularly in the marginal environments of Laos and Cambodia.
This project aims to contribute to improved agricultural policies for rice-based farming systems in Laos and Cambodia, taking account of trends in Thailand and Vietnam, in line with ACIAR's food security initiative for the Mekong region. The project objectives are: (1) to analyse current agricultural strategies, policy processes, and policy settings in Laos and Cambodia in the context of regional social, economic and environmental trends; (2) to demonstrate the benefits of evidence-based policy development in Laos and Cambodia through feedback from selected case studies aligned with other ACIAR food security projects; (3) to examine agricultural policy trends in other countries in the region, especially Thailand and Vietnam, and the implications of cross-border trade and investment for policies in Laos and Cambodia; (4) to collaborate with agricultural policy agencies in Laos and Cambodia to identify improved policy options and strengthen policy development processes.
The immediate benefits of the project will be: (1) an improved understanding of policy processes in Laos and Cambodia; (2) an appreciation of the ways in which policy implementation is conditioned by circumstances at the local level, enhancing the ability to interpret and address policy constraints; (3) detailed evaluation of current policy impacts on rice-based farming systems, providing important feedback to policy-makers; (4) an examination of specific, evidence-based policy options that have the potential to increase the uptake of innovations arising from ACIAR and other projects. The longer-term benefits of the project will be to strengthen the capacity of government policy agencies, universities, research institutes, non-government organisations, and technical researchers in the region to apply evidence from field studies to policy development and evaluation.