NAFRI Research Agenda
The NAFRI research program and agenda (2007-2010) has been developed through a participatory process within NAFRI whereby senior staff worked over a period of time to identify key issues, challenges and opportunities within the agriculture sector and then match this to NAFRI’s previous work and expertise. This new programme recognizes NAFRI’s changing roles and focuses on three interlinked areas: improving efficiency in agriculture production, improving land use and land management processes and feeding back the impacts of rapid agrarian change to policy makers at different levels.
Potential research identified is grouped into three levels based on similarity of issues and focus:
- Research Thrusts: which are the overall guiding research programmes identified from the problem analysis carried out.
- Research Areas: the different types of research that will be carried out within each research thrust
- Research Aspects: the type of that should and should not be carried out.
Regardless of their priority, there are 5 research thrusts with 23 research areas in total. Description of each research thrust is briefly given below. To read the download here: NAFRI Strategic Plan for 2007 -2012 & Research Agenda for 2007 – 2010
Five NAFRI Research Thrusts:
- Maximizing return per land unit through productivity improvement
- Improving land use planning and management procedures
- Improving enabling environment and mechanisms to support agriculture and forestry production for increased land use effectiveness
- Marketing and quality requirements for agriculture and forestry products
- Sustainable management, utilization and conservation of natural resources
Research thrust 1: Maximizing return per land unit through productivity improvement
In the midst of increasing demand and competition for land, it is crucial for research to influence change in people’s attitude in their farming practices by providing a more proactive and systematic thinking in land utilization. Leaving farmers to look for technologies to improve production of certain products may not be adequate if they fail to meet their daily needs. Crops selected might sometimes not be productive in the area rendering people more vulnerable. Higher returns from any form of land utilization is, in this context, important so as to achieve increased income from poverty reduction-oriented agriculture and forestry productions. Our research should aim at stimulating people to look for best possible options in their locality from which they could get maximum returns. This means that research should be more integrated taking several aspects into account such as biophysical, accessibility, market, trade, regulations, supportive measures and mechanisms including incentives, etc. However, for the sake of clarity, these aspects are addressed separately under different research thrusts.
This thrust concentrates on research to maximize returns from each agricultural and forest land unit through improving its productivity. As farmers are also interested in returns on labour, efforts will also focus on maximizing labour. Research efforts will focus on the development of environment-friendly technology options for improving productivity of crops, livestock, fishery and forest products both for commercial and food security purposes. Efficiency in water use; soil improvement and soil conservation technologies; farming systems; post harvest technologies and processing for value addition are all important areas of research to be focused on. Special attention will also be given to technologies to improve localized production systems that help the poor to achieve food security and ways to efficiently mitigate risks from natural disasters. In addition, research activities to improve enabling environment in support of this thrust will form an integral part of the research.
Research Thrust 2: Improving land use planning and management procedures
This research thrust will focus on devising and consolidating tools, methodologies and procedures for multi-level, integrated land use planning to promote and support sustainable use of agriculture and forestlands at different levels. Measures that will ensure systematic integration of land use plan into socio-economic development planning at different levels will also be important aspects of research. Great effort will be put on consolidating methodologies and procedures at district, cluster-village and village levels. Further, emphasis will also be given on understanding comprehensive situation in agricultural and forestland utilization and its impacts. Devising supportive land use management systems and mechanisms to mainstream management procedures and practices from district down to cluster and village levels will get special attention. Collaborative arrangements and networking with other authorities e.g. NLMA and other projects will be promoted, developed and progressively strengthened.
Research Thrust 3: Improving enabling environment and mechanisms to support agriculture and forestry production for increased land use effectiveness
Despite the availability of a number of appropriate technologies, lessons and recommendations, their application and replication are often constrained by non-supportive institutional mechanisms.
NAFRI’s research will therefore look into understanding the various existing systems governing the application of promising technologies in order to improve the environment and find appropriate mechanisms to improve efficiency in agriculture and forestry production. The focus of research will be placed on improving microfinance systems and practices that will foster local production; developing mechanisms for community mobilization and methodologies for agri-business development and management; providing feedback and recommendation for formulation of policies and legal frameworks governing agriculture and forestry production; and developing and streamlining incentive systems.
For greater impact, indigenous knowledge systems in farming and natural resources utilization and management together with various types of impacts influencing local livelihood will form important consideration in research programmes and design.
Research Thrust 4: Marketing and quality requirements for agriculture and forestry products
Marketing and quality standardization and their effects on agriculture and forestry production are important issues that will be addressed under this thrust. This area will also encompass comprehensive value chain studies on a number of specific products that have high priority. There is a special need to explore marketing approaches, which involve poorer farmers. Trade policies, market demands and quality requirements at regional and international levels are important aspects for research to provide better information as well as recommendations to different concerned parties to quickly react to the situations. Transboundary issues relating to trade of agriculture and forest products and management and conservation of natural resources will receive a close attention.
Research Thrust 5: Sustainable management, utilization and conservation of natural resources
Natural resources in Laos are under threat of over-use and over exploitation. This is highly connected with the lack of in-depth knowledge of the complex resource base and subsequently lack of proper management skills. Resource use is manifold, from traditional low impact individual household use to large scale extractive use of forest and land resources. The research thrust’s focus is at the physical resource base, i.e. forest and land resources, assessing its utilization potential, and at the degrees or status of protecting and conservation necessary to ensure not only sustainable use and income generation for all stakeholder, but also to affirm that overall quality of the resource base increases and not decreases over time.
The three pillars for the research thrust are concerned about mitigating the negative impact on overall agro- and forest biodiversity, the development of pro-poor sustainable management systems to facilitate and support livelihoods, and to carry out applied research to facilitate and improve environmental compensation and service schemes i.e. in the case of loss of access due to hydropower or mining plants and for carbon sequestration schemes among others.
As far as biodiversity is concerned, research does not only address conservation issues but also utilization aspects. Resources will be assessed in their status and potentials for conservation and utilization. Management systems and domestication techniques will be important aspects of research. Local systems of knowledge are important aspect of this area as it is recognized that rural Lao farmers are responsible for much of the agro-biodiversity found in the ‘farm-scape’ as well as in swidden fields. Enhancing factors towards more integrated approach to biodiversity conservation and utilization also form important area of research under this thrust.
Other important area of research will be on identify appropriate methods for participatory sustainable management of natural resources under different kinds of tenure arrangements to ensure a continuous flow of benefits to help improve local livelihood and socio-economic development. Options for short-term benefit generation as well as incentive and other supportive mechanisms that are directly and indirectly supporting sustainable management of natural resources will be given more emphasis. Bio-fuel and carbon sink issues will also receive greater attention to provide information and guidance to the government on appropriate actions. Active participation will be made on development of methodologies for biomass and carbon stocks assessment and national resources monitoring to contribute to the worldwide battle against global warming.
Last Updated (Thursday, 24 December 2009 11:45)