Lao researchers are keen to follow the Thai model of village based maize seed production

By: Kristine Joy S. Villagracia

THAILAND – Nine officials, researchers, and scientists of the Lao PDR gathered insights from the Thai experience on village based seed production to promote stress tolerant maize varieties (STMV) during their study mission in the Thai provinces of Nakhon Sawan and Petchabun from 25 to 28 January 2016. (Photo by Thailand DOA)

Lao representatives from the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), the Maize and Cash Crop Research Center and Provincial Departments of Agricultural and Forestry, expressed their keen interest to replicate the model of “Village Based Maize Seed Production” to boost the resilience of Lao maize farmers to climate change and to overcome some of the challenges the Lao maize sector is facing.

Mr. Viengsavanh Phimphachanhvongsod, Deputy Director in the Planning and Cooperation Division of NAFRI, explained “maize farmers in Laos usually use open pollinated rather than hybrid seeds which have a higher yield potential. Hybrid seeds currently have to be imported from other ASEAN countries, and hence are very costly for Lao farmers”. Dr. Viengsavanh estimates that 50% of the cost for importing maize seeds could be saved if Laos is able to breed its own seeds using parent breeding materials from Thailand.

As part of a four-day study mission, the delegation from Laos visited the Field and Renewable Energy Crops Research Institute of the Thai Department of Agriculture in Bangkok as well as the Nakhon Sawan Field Crops Research Center where research on stress tolerant maize varieties (STMV) is being conducted. Ms. Amara Traisiri, Director of Nakhon Sawan Field Crops Research Center and Mr. Rathpol Chuyod, Director of Phetchabun Field Crops Research Center, facilitated the program for the study visit of the Laos delegation.

A highlight of the mission is the interview with Mr. Suwarn Nimsuwan and Mr. Thanin Kruakwan, model farmers at Nakhon Sawan and Phetchabun provinces, respectively, who joined the Maize Seed Village project of the Department of Agriculture. The two model farmers shared their success stories related to the production of maize hybrid seeds that allowed them to save the cost for seed inputs for almost half of their normal expenditures. With support from the Department of Agriculture, farmers in the villages have started to commercially produce and supply high quality hybrid seeds of the drought tolerant maize cultivar Nakhon Sawan 3. This increases the self-sufficiency in seed supply in the village. Farmers purchasing their seeds from the model farm are not only able to reduce their vulnerability to drought, the major threat to maize production in Thailand, but can also decrease production cost.

The Lao delegates realized the benefits the model could have for maize farmers in Laos. Back in Laos, they will share their learning with key stakeholders involved in the maize sector to gain their buy-in for developing a roadmap to introduce the model of community village based maize seed production. To intensify the cooperation with Thailand and gain a deeper understanding of the model, NAFRI will send field extension workers to the Nakhon Sawan Fields Crops Research Center to undergo Training of the Trainors for one cropping season. Subsequently, Thai researchers and policy makers from the Department of Agriculture will travel to Laos to learn from the maize seed production practices of Laos, particularly on indigenous maize varieties. They will also provide guidance on how the farmers could produce their own hybrid seeds, and advise on potential stress tolerant maize varieties that has potential to be developed as a drought tolerant maize variety in the future as well as in implementing the roadmap. The areas to be visited include Vientianne, Pak Lai, Xayaburi, and Sainyabuli in Laos.

The study mission as well as the exchange of Thai advisors to Laos is part of the knowledge exchange between ASEAN Member States (AMS) under the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN). The ASEAN-CRN strengthens regional collaboration on addressing the challenge of climate change in agriculture. The promotion of stress tolerant varieties has been identified as a priority practice in ASEAN for regional collaboration, to strengthen ASEAN’s resilience to climate change. The ASEAN-CRN is supported by the ASEAN-German Programme on Response to Climate Change (GAP-CC) which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in close cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC).

Full photo documentation can be seen here

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