Crop health capacity-building in least developed countries: a unique approach

Agriculture employs over 70% of the workforce in Laos, one of the least developed countries in the world, and provides approximately 27% of total GDP. Intensifying vegetable production will increase plant pest and disease pressure and significant on-farm losses for the majority of subsistence and smallholder cooperative farmers. Intensification is likely to happen if Laos is to meet the World Trade Organization Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the ‘SPS Agreement’) requirements for exports to the ASEAN economic community and international markets. This will be a major challenge in the horticultural production areas of Savannakhet and the Bolaven Plateau because there is little capacity in crop health there to support farmers. In collaboration with Provincial Government authorities and the Australian Government volunteer program (AVID) managed by Scope Global, the Crawford Fund has committed to a long-term program to build capacity in crop health, biosecurity and food safety in Laos since 2009. Engaging volunteer early-career scientists to deliver insect and disease diagnostics training has increased the capacity of local counterparts to provide crop protection advice. Placements provide context-specific training and longer-term sustainability through gradual training, while also giving volunteers an opportunity to engage in a career in international agricultural development. Crawford e-mentors support volunteers in five countries with advice and pro-bono laboratory services – a unique feature of the program. Crop management strategies have already been implemented on key farms with the help of local staff, leading to reduced crop loss and increased yields. This long-term commitment will contribute to rural economic development of the smallholder farm sector in Laos, and facilitate trade in rural commodities.

Issue Date:
Aug 29 2016
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
Total Pages:

 Record created 2017-05-15, last modified 2018-01-23

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