Project final report

Developing improved farming and marketing systems in rainfed regions of southern Lao PDR - final report

Date released
01 December 2015
Publication Code

Prof Len Wade, Dr Tamara Jackson, Ms Jenny Locker, Ms Sarah Boothey


The lowland and upland farming systems of rainfed southern Lao PDR have been identified as having elevated risk of hunger and rising rural poverty. The Government of Lao PDR recognises the south as an agricultural economy in transition, with a need to ensure that the poor participate in and benefit from the transition process. Increasing the supply of food and generating income from these systems is constrained by low fertility soils, weed competition, production and market risk (including drought and flood) and increasing cost of labour. Ineffective value chains and poor market access, inappropriate product quality, lack of infrastructure, extension and policy support impede farmers' efforts to change their farming systems. Risk-averse producers have little incentive to invest in better production and higher inputs.

Nevertheless, the lowlands and uplands in the south have potential for market surplus in rice, other crops and livestock, and therefore, a better understanding of regional market potential and comparative advantage is important. In the southern rice-based systems, there are opportunities to intensify and diversify the production systems with livestock and other crops, through the development of new technologies, and the adaptation of knowledge from the northern uplands of Lao PDR and neighbouring countries. Through better understanding and use of water resources, there is the opportunity to explore the use of supplementary irrigation to secure rice-based systems against drought, and improve prospects for short-duration post-rice crops and forages for livestock production in lowlands and uplands.