Lao PDR and IRRI
Lao PDR-IRRI collaboration began in the late 1960s and the first memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Lao PDR and IRRI was signed in 1987.
Lao PDR-IRRI collaboration began in the late 1960s and continued in the 1970s with testing of improved rice breeding material from IRRI’s rice breeding and selection work in Lao PDR. In 1973, systematic multilocation yield trials took place followed by the multiplication and dissemination of several IRRI lines and varieties to farmers.
The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Lao PDR and IRRI was signed in 1987. Heightened collaborative work began when the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) supported the Lao PDR-IRRI Research and Training Project from 1990 to 2007. This project aimed to improve and strengthen rice research capacity within the country and included research support, development, and training. An offshoot of the project was the development of a national rice research network, which, by the end of 1995, included all provinces of the country.
IRRI’s work in Lao PDR is supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), SDC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Government of Japan, and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
On 12 January 2007, Dr. Sitaheng Rasphone, Lao PDR Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, and Dr. Robert Zeigler, IRRI director general, signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a regional hub in Lao PDR and as a result, the IRRI-Greater Mekong Subregion office in Lao PDR was formally opened. The office has since become the IRRI-Lao PDR office.
A policy study at the request of the government called the Lao People’s Democratic Republic Rice Policy Study, was released in 2012. It was stated in the report that since the country has moved from rice deficit to sizable surplus, and rice shortages becomes more of a localized phenomenon, focus of food security shifts to addressing nutritional benefits. The reports acknowledged that improving nutritional outcomes will increasingly be dependent on policies that promote higher household incomes, education on and awareness of better uses of foodstuff. This report was a support to an evidence-based policy decisions regarding the rice sector. It has benefited from the collaboration between the World Bank,the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and IRRI. Also, in the same year, IRRI welcomed IRRI welcomed H.E. Thongsing Thammavong, prime minister of Lao PDR, in a visit he made to the institute’s headquarters while on trip to the Philippines.