Strengthening Research for Agriculture Policy Development

In 2012, a Policy Think Tank (PTT) was established under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, with the vision of helping guiding the country towards economic prosperity and poverty alleviation. The PTT has established a core team, carried out several studies and generated interest amongst stakeholders involved in the agricultural sector policy improvement. Now, the PTT structure and mandate need to be strengthened and adapted to answer to the changes that the country is facing.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security

Agricultural policy
Agricultural research
Sector not specified
15.06.2017 - 31.12.2020
CHF  501’607

Lao PDR is undergoing a rapid agricultural and economic transition. The Government of Laos (GoL) has determined agriculture development as a priority and has established guidelines to shift from subsistence agriculture to a modern market-oriented agriculture. Most policies in regards to agriculture are under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), many are either obsolete or drafted from purely administrative and political plans, which often lack scientific evidence based on research. As a result, the MAF has expressed concerns in regards to the relevance of the policies and their implementation, and has pointed out the need for an inter-linked sciences-technology-policy research interface able to inform and guide the Ministry and the GoL in its decisions, at different levels.


The overall goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the MAF to facilitate and coordinate research across sectors and ministries through the PTT, and to feed research results into the policy dialogue. PTT’s ability to conduct quality scientific and evidence-based research will be strengthened, research results will be presented to and discussed with key stakeholders in effective forums and platforms. Effective recommendations on agriculture, natural resources management and rural development policies will be formulated and provided to key stakeholders, allowing MAF and other ministries to take decisions in an informed manner.

Target groups

Direct beneficiaries are:

  • The Government of Laos (GoL)

  • The MAF

  • The Policy Research Center (PRC) of National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI)

Indirect beneficiaries are:

  • Other Ministries and relevant departments

  • Research centers

  • The National University of Laos (NUoL)

  • Private sector

  • Donor agencies

  • Farmers and smallholders
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: The PTT is able to conduct quality scientific and evidence based researches.

Outcome 2: Scientific evidence based researches are presented and discussed with key stakeholders in effective forums and platforms.

Outcome 3: The PTT is able to formulate and to provide recommendations on agriculture, natural resources and rural development to MAF and GoL policy and decision makers.


Expected results:  

  • Processes and mechanisms for identifying and prioritizing research requests from different decision-makers and designing quality policy research proposals are in place.
  • The design and implementation of evidence-based and scientific-oriented policy-relevant research has been demonstrated.
  • The PTT will demonstrate how policy researchers can (i) communicate research results effectively; (ii) engage with stakeholders in policy making processes, and (iii) meet management and reporting requirements (including management of policy research processes) effectively.
  • The PTT has demonstrated to MAF counterparts the use of various platforms and forums acceptable to senior MAF leadership, to engage with different research groups that will result in inter-sectoral coordination leading to convergence of policy formulation.
  • Institutionalization of PTT at MAF and cross-sectoral level.
  • Capitalization of lessons learnt and a well-defined process and format will aim at preparing and presenting options and recommendations to MAF leadership.
  • PTT has demonstrated capacities to implement and produce policy briefs and synthesis reports to inform policy makers.

Results from previous phases:  

Through a small partial action under the Northern Upland Development Programme (NUDP), SDC has supported the “PTT predecessor”. Through this, a core team of researchers was established, and led several scientific studies which helped the MAF in its decisions resulting in, for example, the ban of / moratorium on banana plantations. The PTT, in its role of inter-linked interface, has also allowed the presentation of several key studies done by the Lao Upland Rural Advisory Services (LURAS), related to the overuse of pesticides and farmers’ indebtedness, which had undoubtedly retained the attention of the Ministry.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Foreign state institution
  • Central State of South East

Other partners

IFAD, FAO, WLE, CIRAD, WB, CDE, private sector

Entities interested in policy framework improvement

Coordination with other projects and actors


Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    501’607 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    425’380