The ‘Rice-based Systems Research (RSR) program: Food Security in Lao PDR, Cambodia and Bangladesh’, is one of four programs developed by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) under the Food Security through Rural Development initiative announced in the 2009 federal budget.

This multi-disciplinary research program explored opportunities to alleviate poverty through improving the productivity and profitability of rice-based farming systems. These systems comprised both rainfed and irrigated agriculture, and were typically integrated with livestock production.

The program invested AUD $14.8 M over a 5-year period (2009-14). Its integrated portfolio comprised five large-scale farm-productivity projects, together with a suite of smaller policy-focused projects, in Lao PDR, Cambodia and Bangladesh. See a full list of projects below under Related Projects.

Collectively, the projects spanned crop and livestock development; best practice management; technological advances; new cropping niches; targeted marketing and extension; and alternative evidence-based policy options.

Policy Dialogue on Rice Futures

HE Ms Alison Burrows  (Australian Ambassador to Cambodia), Dr Ouk Makara (Director, CARDI) and Conference Convenor Dr Mike Nunn (ACIAR)

ACIAR convened a 2.5 day policy dialogue in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 7- ­9 May 2014. Download the program here.

The purpose of the dialogue was to explore the policy implications of key research findings on rice-based farming systems in the Mekong region. The event brought together senior policy-makers and policy-influencers in the region with lead scientists and research program managers.

Our emphasis was to communicate and deliberate on findings from ACIAR-funded research and some key non-ACIAR research in the region. The event marked the end of ACIAR’s five-year Rice-based Systems Research (RSR) Program: Food Security in Lao PDR, Cambodia and Bangladesh, which concluded in June 2014.

The dialogue helped build capacity for realising improved policy settings in the region through discussing and publishing policy-oriented papers, and through networking among delegates.

Formal ACIAR technical proceedings comprise the papers presented at the dialogue according to its five themes rice futures, intensification and mechanisation, diversification, climate change and natural resource management, and policy and knowledge. These papers have now been reviewed and edited and the proceedings will be published shortly.

Session overview papers written by designated rapporteurs will be incorporated in the proceedings to capture the breadth of deliberations and panel discussions at the event.

The program’s five core strategies are to:

  • Intensify crops in rice-based production systems by increasing the number of crops grown on the same land each year following the main rice crop
  • Boost yields by improving the efficiency of water and nutrient use
  • Improve livestock production by integrating animals more effectively with rice-based farming systems
  • Strengthen policy settings by improving understanding of the linkages with and impacts on food security
  • Build capacity of individuals and institutions by establishing effective collaborative relationships and facilitating knowledge sharing.


We are progressively tracking our research against these five core strategies. Check out our summary of RSR program progress for 2013, and an overview of our program impacts to date.


Contact us if you have any comments or feedback about the RSR program or related information on our website.

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