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Laos is a landlocked country that shares borders with Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Mostly mountainous, only 4.0% of Laos’ land is arable and only a small portion is cultivated. Its agricultural sector employs 75% of its labor force and accounts for 27.8% of the country’s GDP. 

The map below shows the areas of marginal uplands in Laos. 
Uplands in Laos

Farmers in Laos grow other crops in the same plot together with rice. These include maize, cucumber, pumpkin, taro, cassava, chilies, sesame, smooth loofah, sweet potato, long bean, peanut, eggplant, ginger, sorghum, yam bean, pigeon pea, and sun hemp. 

Farmers here have also been found to grow some upland rice despite having sufficiently large irrigated fields, one reason for which is the spread of labor use. Upland rice is normally established and harvested earlier than lowland rice. By growing both, farmers are able to spread labor use over a longer span and avoid labor bottlenecks.

Nitrogen and phosphorus deficiencies and iron toxicity are common in Laos, and some soils are deficient in potassium and micronutrients.  Shifting cultivation is also more common in the country. 

The total of drought-affected rice area is 20,340 hectares out of a total country rice area of 767,820 hectares in Lao PDR

Drought-prone areas in Laos.

Key institutions

  • National Forestry Agriculural Forestry Institute (NAFReC)
  • Rice and Cash Crops Research Center (RCCRC)

Key scientists

  • Dr. Khamla Phanthaboun
  • Dr. Khamdok Songyikhangsutor*
  • Dr. Phoumi Inthaphanya
  • Mr. Phetmanyseng Xangsayasane
* On study leave

Released rice varieties

 Name of variety Year released Ecosystem
 TDK1-sub1 Candidate for release Submergence


  • Drought
  • Submergence
  • Upland

Research activities

Drought. Researchers conducted multi-location evaluation and good agricultural practices in 10 villages in two southern provinces, Savannakhet and Champassak. Farmer visits were organized in all trials to show the trials and discuss gaps. In southern Laos, tested post rice crops were mungbean, peanut, maize, and soybean. These crops were irrigated from nearby ponds, and in a few cases from shallow groundwater tubes. The objective was to determine the most productive and profitable post rice crops. Data collection and analysis are still in progress.

Uplands. Rice varieties for the uplands: In Laos, NAFReC conducted field trials to identify the best varieties and cropping systems for the uplands. An evaluation of nine upland rice varieties with local check B6144 (nonglutinous) was made at the station. 

Two glutinous entries, Naxang and Oppok, and a local check cultivar were used in the baby trials conducted in nine farmers’ fields in Mai Village. 

NAFReC partners also studied gall midge resistance for upland rice. TenF6lines of the Meuang Nga × TDK 7 cross were selected on the basis of grain yield, maturity, grain quality, and resistance to gall midge. 

Crop management. To identify suitable N fertilization rates for upland rice production, nine improved nonglutinous cultivars—IR82635-B-B-145-1, IR83928-B-B-28-3, IR82589-B-B-2-3, IR83928- B-B-81-2,IR82589-B-B-149-4,IR82635-B-B-47-1, IR82635-B-B-59-2, IR82639-B-B-118-3, and IR82589- B-B-7-3—and check B6144F-MR-6 were used in the NAFReC trials. 

To identify the best legumes for intercropping with rice under continuous upland rice cultivation, Laboun, a traditional upland rice variety, was intercropped with soybean, cowpea, and mungbean.