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A panel providing information about Laos. A$5.68 million Budgeted funding. 23 ACIAR-supported projects. 17 Bilateral and regional research projects. 6 Small projects and research activities. Projects specific to Sri Lanka. 18 Regional projects.


Like many countries in the world, Laos struggled with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted livelihoods and tested its fragile healthcare system. Economically, Laos had its slowest GDP growth rate in 30 years because of the pandemic.

Signs of an economic recovery in early 2022 were welcomed, with economic activity mostly driven by the services sector (due to increased regional and domestic tourism) and the openings of the Laos–China railway and the Thanaleng Dry Port. However, the Laos kip depreciated against the US dollar (to 68%), weakening economic recovery, and public debt increased to 69% of GDP. Consumer price inflation rose to 37% while food price inflation reached 39%. As a result, the economic growth forecast for 2022 was revised down to 2.5% from 3.8%.

Although agriculture continues to play a significant role in the Lao economy, the sector’s share of GDP has decreased from 51% in 2000 to 16.5% in 2020. Subsistence agriculture is still the primary economic activity of approximately 61% of the national labour force (World Bank, 2021). The latest agriculture census nationwide (2019–20) indicates that smallholder farmers account for 52% of total agricultural households, the majority of whom are poor and face a wide range of supply-side challenges that affect productivity and market participation.

Most agricultural products are produced for domestic consumption, not for export. Despite its recent rapid growth and policy support, development of the export sector is constrained by many challenges. In 2022, cassava, banana and rubber performed well but livestock declined.

In a brief to the Lao PDR Government (in September 2022), the FAO indicated that Laos is facing the risk of food insecurity by 2023. Increased prices of fuel, fertiliser and feed in 2022 meant that Lao farmers cut back on planting crops during the wet season, resulting in a drop in agricultural production and household incomes. While the full impacts are yet to be felt, expectations are that many poor rural households will adopt coping strategies, which include reducing food intake.

The Lao PDR Government’s vision is to move the country from an isolated nation to one that is linked to the East Asia region through infrastructure that fosters trade and integration. To this end, it has made significant investments to improve regional connectivity. The northern corridors connect with China, the western corridors connect with Thailand, and the eastern corridors connect with Vietnam.

The government remains committed to transforming its agrifood system to be more sustainable and modernised, contributing to the national economic base with a strong focus on support for smallholder farmers. The Agricultural Development Strategy provides the framework, vision and long-term development goal for ensuring national food security and sustainable development of the agriculture, forestry and natural resources sector. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has the Agricultural Development Plan 2021–2025, which focuses on improving food security and encourages commercial agriculture for domestic and export purposes, increasing agricultural productivity, providing employment opportunities in rural areas, and improving production systems and practices.

Country priorities

In 2023–24, ACIAR will recalibrate its long-term strategic program priorities based on consultation with Lao stakeholders. The strategic priority outcomes that currently guide our investments in Laos are:

  • efficient and sustainable forestry industries, including non-timber products, with suitable climate-change resilience
  • innovative livestock systems that allow for intensification and land-use requirements, while raising animal health and biosecurity levels
  • increased fish habitat restoration and protection of fish migration routes
  • cost-effective and sustainable rice-based farming systems, through mechanisation, diversification and intensification, along with better crop quality, quarantine standards and value-adding for domestic and export markets
  • improved natural resource management that benefits livelihoods and food security by delivering land-use options to smallholders, with attention to both water and nutrient management within climate-change adaptation
  • improved institutional training and communication frameworks that enable smallholders to adopt and adapt new technologies, and increase the capacity development of researchers and educators.

2023–24 research program

The research program addresses our high-level objectives, as outlined in the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027, as well as specific issues and opportunities identified by ACIAR and our partner organisations.

The following table lists ACIAR-supported projects active in Laos during 2023–24.

Current and proposed projects in Laos, 2023–24

ProgramProject title & codeCountry
 Establishing sustainable solutions to cassava diseases in mainland South-East Asia AGB/2018/172Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
Food loss in the Pangasius catfish value chain of the Mekong River Basin CS/2020/209Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
 Weed management techniques for mechanised and broadcast lowland crop production systems in Cambodia and Laos CROP/2019/145Cambodia, Laos
Disease-resilient and sustainable cassava production systems in the Mekong region CROP/2022/110Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
Addressing the rapid emergence of cassava witches broom disease in Laos CROP/2023/157Laos
 Assessing upstream fish migration measures at Xayaburi Dam in Laos FIS/2017/017Laos
Fishtech: integrating technical fisheries solutions into river development programs across South-East Asia FIS/2018/153Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos
 Building an effective forest health and biosecurity network in South-East Asia FST/2020/123Cambodia, Laos
Forest restoration for economic outcomes FST/2020/137Laos
 An integrated management response to the spread of Fusarium wilt of banana in South-East Asia HORT/2018/192Indonesia, Laos, Philippines
Safe, fresh, year-round vegetables in Cambodia and Laos through research and development support of smallholder productivity and engagement in collaborative supply chains HORT/2021/143Cambodia, Laos
Livestock Systems
 Investigating and developing interventions to mitigate food borne parasitic disease in production animals in Laos LS/2014/055Laos
Goat production systems and marketing in Laos and Vietnam LS/2017/034Laos, Vietnam
Rapid transformation of the Lao beef sector: biosecurity, trade and smallholders LS/2021/128Cambodia, Laos
Livestock enhancement through ecohealth/One Health assessment in South-East Asia LS/2022/163Indonesia, Laos, Philippines
Social Systems
 Building the evidence base on the impacts of mobile financial services for women and men in farming households in Laos and Cambodia SSS/2020/160Cambodia, Laos
Pathways for future farmers in South-East Asia SSS/2022/134Laos, Vietnam
Soil & Land Management
 Quantifying the impacts of nitrogen use and developing sustainable agricultural land management strategies in Laos rice-based farming systems SLAM/2022/102Laos
Assessment of the adoption and adaptation of conservation agriculture and direct seeded rice in South and South-East Asia SLAM/2022/172Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Philippines, Vietnam
Extending findings and transferring knowledge from SMNC/2014/049 on soil management in slopping lands of northwest Vietnam and northern Laos SLAM/2023/106Laos, Vietnam
Management practices for profitable crop livestock systems for Cambodia and Laos SMCN/2012/075Cambodia, Laos
 Water for fish and irrigation in the Mekong WAC/2021/135Cambodia, Laos
Transformative futures for water security: South-East Asia roadmap WAC/2023/176Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand


Regional Manager, East and South-East Asia

Vacant at the time of publication

Research Program Managers

an illustration of a computer with the ACIAR logo in its centre


More information about our projects is available on the ACIAR website. Search for the project title or project code.


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