Crawford Fund Mentoring Program grows a weedy focus in the Lao PDR

July 8, 2019

Professor Deirdre Lemerle, another of our lead mentors in our Laos mentoring program, visited again in May/June to continue with our capacity building and mentoring work in the rice-based farming systems of Savannakhet Province.

The focus of the project is  on improving the profitability and sustainability of rice-based production systems in central and southern Laos. This part of our work in Laos is a collaboration with farmers, Lao Provincial and District Governments (PAFO & DAFO), the Australian Volunteer Program (AVP) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Stephen Lang, Matt Champness and Deirdre Lemerle examining perennial grasses

This mentoring follows on from Professor Lemerle’s visit to the Lao PDR last year exploring the need for capacity building in weed management in the rice-based farming systems of Savannakhet Province.

The work provides additional opportunities for Australian volunteers in Laos, in addition to our efforts with plant health and biosecurity, which is lead by Professor Lester Burgess, most recently reported here.

Matt Champness and Stephen Lang commenced two 12-month AVP volunteer assignments in weed management and soil improvement, respectively. The aim is to develop integrated weed management strategies by demonstrating a range of non-chemical control tactics in direct-seeded rice where weeds are a major problem. This includes crop competition, interrow cultivation, and techniques to stop weed seedbank replenishment.

“Field demonstrations and field workshops were used for extension and training with farmers and advisers. The work aims to increase rice production, improve human nutrition, and increase farmers’ incomes,” reported Deirdre on her return.Further mentoring visits are planned for while Matt and Stephen are in Laos.

Farmers and advisers discuss various weed seedlings found in rice

During this trip, Deirdre commenced posting on our new Crawford Fund Instagram site, which has a number of posts and photos by Deirdre from the visit.

Work continues with both volunteers and we will provide updates over the coming year.

You can support our mentoring activities in Laos and elsewhere – more details.