Research strategies for mechanised production of rice in transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture: a case study from Khammouan in Lao PDR
Abstract, Plant Production Science, 2019 January
Mechanised rice production has started to take place in response to rural labour shortage and increased labour cost in Khammouan province in central Laos where subsistence rice production is being replaced with commercial agriculture. This paper summarizes the results of recent findings of four mechanised items, combine harvester, seed drill, transplanter, and artificial grain dryer, and discusses research strategies for advancement of the mechanised rice production system. Combine and seed drill were considered to have good potential for reduction in production cost and hence the likelihood of farmer adoption. Synergistic effects of these four and other items are noted; for example, the adoption of combine harvesting service is associated with farmer’s accessibility to drying facilities. Artificially dried grain has been shown to decrease broken rice component during the milling process, resulting in higher grain quality, and hence increased marketability. The proposed research strategies focus on the production of rice with reduced cost and increased grain quality for increased farmer adoption of contracting services available for mechanised rice production. The strategies include promotion of large size paddy fields to allow efficient use of machinery and reduced service fees. Other strategies which are discussed include identification of suitable rice varieties and other technologies that maximize in field machinery efficiency. The requirements of actors in the rice value chain working together for mechanised rice production are emphasised.