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Developing agricultural policies for rice-based farming systems in Lao PDR and Cambodia

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.