[Bangkok, August 2023] – The National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) announces its selection for two projects under the support of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund. These initiatives— “Technology Transfer and Knowledge Exchange on Edible Mushrooms for Economic and Agricultural Sustainable Development among Countries in the Mekong Region” and “Promotion of Sustainable Cassava Production in the Mekong Region through Dissemination of Cassava Mosaic Disease Diagnostic and Clean Cassava Seed Production Technologies”—underscore our commitment to fostering sustainable development and agricultural progress within the region.
Project 1: Technology Transfer and Knowledge Exchange on Edible Mushrooms for Economic and Agricultural Sustainable Development among Countries in the Mekong Region
Dr. Umpawa Pinruan, a researcher at BIOTEC’s Plant Microbe Interaction Research Team, has been awarded a Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund totaling USD 258,059 (approximately THB 9,072,323) over three years. The project titled “Promotion of Technological Transfer and Knowledge Sharing on Edible Mushrooms for Sustainable Economic and Agricultural Advancement in Mekong Region Countries” aims to facilitate the exchange of expertise and technology concerning edible mushroom cultivation. The project primarily targets farmers and rural populations in China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Edible mushrooms contribute to food security through their diverse edible and medicinal products, capitalizing on the trends surrounding mushroom-based protein and sustainability. However, sustainable mushroom cultivation within agricultural farms presents challenges. The reduction in forest cover, coupled with climate change and global warming, has led to a decline in the diversity and production of wild edible mushrooms.
“The objectives of this initiative are to enhance agricultural productivity and economic viability by incorporating advanced techniques and insights related to edible mushroom production,” explained Dr. Pinruan, the Principal Investigator. “The technology transfer is poised to elevate yields and minimize costs, labor, and waste while concurrently enabling the creation of value-added mushroom products. Ultimately, the project’s end goal is to uplift the quality of life and income levels for farmers and rural communities situated within the Mekong region.”
Dr. Pinruan elaborated, “by focusing on the management of production processes within farms, encompassing waste management and efficient resource utilization, this project emerges as an effective means to boost the reputation of mushroom farms as hubs of waste recycling.” Furthermore, the project aligns with the holistic cultivation of mushrooms, integrated with forest ecosystems. This approach serves a dual purpose: conserving the diversity of wild edible mushrooms and minimizing their yields. This makes these mushrooms a reliable source of food and income for rural communities, strengthening both food security and economic stability.
Project 2: Promotion of Sustainable Cassava Production in the Mekong Region through Dissemination of Cassava Mosaic Disease Diagnostic and Clean Cassava Seed Production Technologies
Dr. Saengsoon Charoenvilaisiri, a researcher at BIOTEC’s Monoclonal Antibody Production and Application Research Team, is set to spearhead the project titled “Promotion of Sustainable Cassava Production in the Mekong Region through Dissemination of Cassava Mosaic Disease Diagnostic and Clean Cassava Seed Production Technologies.” The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund has awarded a significant grant of USD 288,846 (approximately THB 10,161,603) to support the project. The initiative is set to span three years, marking a significant step toward advancing sustainable cassava production practices in the region.
Cassava is an important cash crop in the Mekong region. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand are among the world’s most important exporters of cassava products with a combined market share of over 90% (www.krungsri.com, 2022). However, cassava faces challenges from the pervasive Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) caused by the Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus (SLCMV) that not only threatens the financial stability of smallholder farmers but also affect stakeholders along the cassava value chain.
Developed by the BIOTEC research teams, two advanced cassava seed production technologies (tissue culture and mini-stem techniques) and two CMD diagnostic technologies (ELISA and ICG strip test techniques) will be adopted into the project as essential tools for preparing virus-free planting materials as well as for disease surveillance and management. These technologies will play a crucial role in reducing cassava yield loss and ensuring a sufficient supply of cassava along the value chain.
“Over the course of three years, we will engage a multidisciplinary team of experts from BIOTEC, the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Vietnam University of Agriculture (VNUA), National University of Laos (NUOL), Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS), collaborating closely with local farmers and relevant government and private agencies,” said Dr. Saengsoon Charoenvilaisiri, the Principal Investigator. “The team will work collectively to develop a capacity-building program for knowledge dissemination of CMD detection tools and clean cassava seed production technologies. Participants in the cassava value chain from Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand will be recruited to participate in the program. The team will also assist its regional partner to establish ELISA laboratories in cassava-growing areas to promote access to CMD screening technology. Moreover, we will create demonstration plots for clean cassava seed production in pilot areas to serve as models for future clean cassava seed production in the region.”
What is the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund?
The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund was established in 2017 under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework in order to provide financial assistance to the development efforts of the six Mekong countries.
Throughout the projects’ journey, regular updates will be provided to stakeholders, the public, and the media. These updates will showcase milestones achieved, lessons learned, and the tangible impact of the projects on sustainable development within the region.