Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Mentoring program shows value of international ag research

Spending the best part of a year in Lao PDR has shown Stephen Lang that working in international agriculture is where he wants to be.

Until COVID-19, Mr Lang was working as a soils agronomist in Savannakhet in Laos under the guidance of Graham Centre members Dr Deirdre Lemerle and Dr Jason Condon as part of a Crawford Fund mentoring program.

Mr Lang says his work is part of a program to improve production on rice farms.

“I’m working with the local agriculture office and we aim to recognise the soil constraints within the local region and work out ways to overcome them to improve yields and livelihoods,” Mr Lang said.

“Some of this is introducing liming for acid soils but also encouraging the use of compost and replacing nutrients in ongoing seasons.”

Mr Lang said a highlight of his work in Laos has been engaging with local farmers.

“Being based here as a longer term volunteer I have learnt the importance of building relationships with the local team and working within the local context to achieve results.

“I am learning the Lao language and it’s definitely rewarding when I can say things in the field and be understood by local farmers.”

The program is a collaboration between: Lao farmers and collaborators; Lao Provincial Agricultural and Forestry Office, Lao district agricultural and forestry offices; the Crawford Fund; the Australian Volunteers Program; and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Dr Lemerle’s involvement in this program was supported by Graham Centre engagement funding.


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