Train-the-Trainer Program under Lancang – Mekong Cooperation to Enhance Production Capacity and People’s Livelihood by Improving the Value Chain for Cassava Cultivation and Application: Clean Cassava Chips, Native Starch, Modified Starch, Ethanol and Biogas Production Project was awarded a grant of THB 13,732,488 for a period of 3 years (2020-2023)

Cassava is one of the most important economic crops in Thailand. In 2019, Thailand became the world's largest producer and exporter of cassava accounted for more than 68% of global market. It is particularly noteworthy that the combined market share of Thailand and Mekhong region which consists of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, reached 90%.

Dr. Warinthorn Songkasiri, Director of Biochemical Engineering and Systems Biology Research Group, BIOTEC and PI of the project mentioned that “Since 1995, National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) and the Thai Tapioca Starch Association (TTSA) has joined forces to drive the cassava industry of the country. Research and development to maximize starch production efficiency while minimizing resource and energy consumption throughout the value chain have been carried out.” With the wealth of knowledge accumulated and proven track record over the past 20 years, Dr. Songkasiri is confident that the team is ready to disseminate the technology to CLMV to strengthen capability of people and create the competitiveness along the cassava value chain.

The project aims to transfer technology from Thailand to neighboring countries such as China and Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, in all steps of the cassava value chain, including cultivation, processing and waste treatment.

Dr. Kanchana Saengchan, BIOTEC researcher of Waste Utilization and Management Research Team, Co-PI of the project explained that hands-on training will be provided to actors at all levels of the cassava supply chain. Custom designed to meet specific requirements of each country, the training components cover best practices for cassava cultivation and disease control, cassava starch effective production processes and management, bioethanol production and waste management and utilization.

The project also examines the policy environment in each country supporting improved practices. The activities benefit direct target groups comprising cassava producer, manager, engineer, researcher, lecturer and government officer in cassava root, starch and biogas production sectors from CLMVT.

“A total of 120 participants from 5 countries are expected to take part in the 4 training courses”. Dr. Songkasiri concluded.

A multidisciplinary project entitled “Microbial-based Index to Assess the Ecological Status of the Lancang-Mekong River based on Molecular Approaches and DNA Barcoding (MekongDNA) was awarded a research grant of THB 13,690,937. Led by Dr. Supawadee Ingsriswang, Principal Researcher, Thailand Bioresource Research Center, BIOTEC, a 3-year-project is a collaborative effort between various organizations including National Omics Center (NSTDA), the Water Crisis Prevention Center, Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IMCAS), Lancang-Mekong Environmental Cooperation Center, Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center of Ministry of Ecology and Environment, P. R. China, and Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, University of Science, Vietnam.

The MekongDNA project aims to apply integrative metagenomics and DNA barcoding methods to develop microbial indices for effective biomonitoring of water quality in the Mekong-Lancang River Basin. “Metagenomics and DNA barcoding techniques are utilized for a comprehensive assessment of the diversity and abundance of all microbes or microbiomes present in water samples from three main areas of the Mekong-Lancang River Basin: the upper course of a river in China, the middle part of the river that flows through Thailand and the lower course near the mouth of the river that flows into the South China Sea at Vietnam” explained Dr. Ingsriswang.

The microbiome will not only provide information for major microbial species in the river, but will also include microorganisms that are present in small amounts or those that are difficult to grow in normal laboratory conditions. These data obtained from this microbiome analysis of the Mekong-Lancang water samples will be further integrated with other physical and chemical data to analyze spatial and seasonal changes of the freshwater microbial diversity and their abundance and to develop a biological index for the determination of river water quality, which will be advantageous for sustainable development and policymaking.

“This project also aims to raise awareness of water resource conservation and to educate the ecological assessment of the river with microbial index through participation in the model of citizen scientists” Dr. Ingsriswang concluded.

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. Lancang-Mekong cooperation is a sub-regional cooperation platform jointly initiated and developed by China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Contact: International Cooperation and Public Relations Division

Seetala Jamrerkjang  086-7688607

Sudawalai Thaweepaisan 091-770-1585

Suphawadee Niamsoongnoen 088-642-1648