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Home > Basin > Mekong > Increasing water productivity in upper catchments of the Mekong and Red River Basins (PN11)

Full Project Title: Rice landscape management for raising water productivity, conserving resources, and improving livelihoods in upper catchments of the Mekong and Red River Basins (PN11)

Introduction

A complex subsistence-oriented smallholder farming system that relies on traditional practices of rice production often characterizes the upper tributary catchments of mainland Southeast Asia. Agricultural intensification of marginal areas for food production has increased soil erosion, water losses, and degradation of upland forests.

Rice is the staple crop of upland (mostly ethnic) communities with the upper catchments of Lao PDR and Vietnam having an upland rice-based extensive or semi-intensive farming system while cash crop-based intensive farming systems are dominant in the northern Thailand uplands.

The project objective was to improve food security, reduce poverty, and protect the environment in upper catchments by raising rice productivity through the innovative and efficient use of land and water resources of the catchments. The project developed, validated, and disseminated improved technologies for rice-based cropping systems that raised the productivity of water, land, and labor using the landscape management approach, multi-institutional partnership, multidisciplinary teamwork, farmer participatory technology evaluation, and community-based seed production.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

The project inventoried, characterized, and mapped land and water resources in the upper catchments of Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam classifying farming land into two types: sloping uplands and upland paddies (valley bottoms and terraces). Hydrologic scenario analysis was done to understand the effects of sloping land use conversion on water availability for paddy intensification and determine the resulting economic viability of the conversion.

The results of the water-poverty relationship in upper catchments based on farm household survey data indicated that improved access to water enhances the productivity of livelihood assets providing higher income from increased rice production arising from an increase in area, yield, and cropping intensity. Higher income also results from the production of high-value crops for the market provided market access is good.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • The project produced a large number of validated technologies suited to different upland agro-ecologies and farmers’ socioeconomic conditions.
  • The project identified, validated, and disseminated 44 upland rice system-based technologies inclusive of 29 rice varieties, 8 crop and field management practices, and 7 upland rice-based cropping systems.
  • Similarly, the project identified, validated, and disseminated 50 upland paddy rice system-based technologies inclusive of 28 rice varieties, 11 crop management practices, 5 water management practices, and 6 cropping systems.
  • A key feature was the farmer participatory rice seed production initiative that produced 73 tons of seeds of 72 rice varieties with upland rice accounting for 53 varieties and 17 tons of seed, and lowland rice for 19 varieties and 56 tons of seeds.
  • The perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of farmers were changed through knowledge enhancement by farmer training, field trips and exposure visits.
Publications and Outputs

Selected publications and outputs

Journal articles

  1. Laborte AG, Maunahan AA, Hijmanas RJ. 2010. Spectral signature generalization and expansion can improve the accuracy of satellite image classification. PLoS ONE 5(5): e10516.
  2. Affholder F, Jourdain D, Morize M, Quang DD, Tuong TP, Morize M, Ricome A. 2010. Constraints to farmers’ adoption of direct-seeding mulch-based cropping systems: a farm scale modeling approach applied to the mountain slopes of Vietnam. Agricultural Systems 103(1): 51-62.
  3. Hill B. 2010. Winning the upland poverty war: upland rice finds a niche in the mountain prosperity of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Rice Today 9(1): 14-19.
  4. Jourdain D, Pandey S, Tai DA, Quang DD. 2009. Payments for environmental services in upper catchments of Vietnam: will it help the poorest? International Journal of the Commons 3(1): 64-81.

Proceedings

  1. Gurung H, Bhandari H, Velasco L, Keonakhone T, Pandey S, Velarde O, Samson B. 2008. Poverty, water, and livelihoods: a case of two upper catchment villages in northern Lao PDR. Proceedings of the 2nd Int’l Forum on Water and Food, Vol. III, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 10-14 November 2008.
  2. Jourdain D, Tai DA, Quang DD, Pandey S. 2008. Payment for environmental services in upper catchments of Vietnam: expected differential impact for contrasting farmers. Proceedings of the 2nd Int’l Forum on Water and Food, Vol. I, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 10-14 November 2008.
  3. Kitchaicharoen J, Ekasingh B, Dithaprayoon S, Chaiwinit W. 2008. The impact of access to water on livelihood strategies in northern Thailand. Proceedings of the 2nd Int’l Forum on Water and Food, Vol. III, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 10-14 November 2008.
  4. Ritzema R, Plant R, Samson B, Vongputhone B, Pandey S. 2008. System characterization for integrated resource analysis of rice-based livelihood systems in upland Lao PDR. Proceedings of the 2nd Int’l Forum on Water and Food, Vol. I, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 10-14 November 2008.

Videos

  1. IRRI. 2009. Farmers’ livelihood strategies in northern Lao PDR. Los Banos (Philippines): IRRI.
  2. IRRI. 2010. Farmers’ livelihood strategies in northern Vietnam. Los Banos (Philippines): IRRI.
Project Partners

Project partners

CMU, CIRAD, IRRI, NAFRI, UCD, VASI, ICRAF

Project Lead

Project lead

IRRI

For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.

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