New ACIAR project (CSE-2012-077) ‘Mechanization and value adding for diversification of lowland farming systems in Lao PDR and Cambodia’ was launched last week with a Lao inception meeting on the 3-5th July. The project led by Shu Fukai, has a strong UQ team including Jaquie Mitchell, Jonathan Newby, Bhesh Bhandari and Rob Cramb and have partnered with the lead agricultural research organizations in Laos and Cambodia (NAFRI and CARDI). The aim of the project is to improve the productivity of farm-household resources, especially labour, and the diversity, quality, and value of farm produce to enhance household livelihoods and food security in lowland rice-growing areas of Laos and Cambodia. This is to be achieved by utilizing a systems approach, integrating mechanized cropping practices, including combine harvesting, and post-harvest practices that together increase the intensification, diversification, and labour efficiency of the farming system and the market value of the produce

The inception meeting was held over three days and included site visits to target villages. At the NAFRI meeting in Vientiane, Laos on July 3, 2014 various external and international organizations including CARDI-Cambodia, IRRI-Philippines, UQ-Australia, Lao-Australia Development Learning Facility and other organizations working in Laos were able to attend. The meeting was chaired by Australian ambassador, H.E. John Williams, Dr Bounthong Buahome, Director General of NAFRI and Professor Shu Fukai and was featured on the 6:30pm National Evening News and received media coverage in Vientiane and Khammouane newspapers.

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