Laos: Wet season rice target revised down

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Wet season rice production is expected to be reduced by about 300,000 tonnes after widespread flooding this year affected many parts of the country.

The government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, has encouraged farmers around the country to produce 3.5 million tonnes of rainy season rice but authorities expect the harvest to achieve about 3.2 million tonnes, according to ministry officials.

A total of 101,000 hectares of wet season rice were impacted by flooding, about 12 percent of the total planted area of 817,800 hectares. Some 66,000 hectares of the rice crop was estimated to have been destroyed by this year’s deluge.

Consequently, to ensure food security and commercial sustainability, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry ordered that technical teams be assigned to joint local agricultural authorities to rehabilitate production capacity after the flooding.

Under close cooperation across various sectors, the ministry will encourage farmers to plant 100,000 hectares of rice and 185,000 hectares of other crops this coming dry season.

To reach harvest targets, the ministry will focus on ensuring that farmers in Khammuan, Savannakhet, Champassak, Vientiane and other provinces have the means to grow crops, such as adequate irrigation.

The irrigation sector will guarantee to supply water for this dry season coming covering about 89,150 hectares of rice and 65,000 hectares of other crops, General Director of the Irrigation Department, Mr Maykong Phonephommavong told local media.

The sector received 35 billion kip in emergency funds from the government for irrigation system rehabilitation after the floods, he said.

“This amount will repair and rehabilitate 242 irrigation system projects around the country which are expected to supply water to rice and other crops areas over about 37,300 hectares,” Mr Maykong said.         

“All of the projects may not be completed this dry season but will be able to supply water for next rainy season,” he confirmed.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry requested about 70 billion kip in emergency funding for the sector after this year’s natural disasters but they received only 40 billion kip with 5 billion kip earmarked to buy plants seeds, animal stock, fertilisers and other necessary agricultural equipment for flood victims across the country.

The ministry is also planning technical training for farmers during the dry season in a bid to boost yields and the overall harvest.      

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