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Central Lao provinces named as rice farming models
Publication Date : 23-09-2013
The government has named Savannakhet and Khammuan provinces as model areas for the production of good quality rice for domestic sale and export.
Speaking to media during the annual government meeting with provincial governors in Vientiane last week, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mr Vilayvanh Phomkhe said these provinces have large areas of land suitable for rice cultivation.
The government is investing in irrigation systems in these areas to ensure adequate water supply.
Basic agricultural infrastructure in these provinces is good and in many areas farmers are using new methods to cultivate rice and produce good quality seeds, Vilayvanh said.
Most people in these provinces have a long tradition of farming and provide a strong labour pool to produce sufficient rice.
If it is found that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry benefits from the yields produced by these two provinces, the ministry will set up more rice farms in other provinces that have large areas of flat land such as Champassak and Vientiane.
To encourage rice cultivation for both domestic sale and export, the ministry will persuade farmers to move away from traditional methods to the use of modern technology, Vilayvanh said.
“We will cooperate with international organisations and neighbouring countries in research so we can produce good quality rice seeds to supply growers. We will also advise farmers about the use of fertiliser and how to protect their crops,” he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has formulated a strategy to produce larger quantities of rice for both consumption and sale.
In the last few years, the ministry has helped farmers to produce an average of about three million tonnes of rice each year. Today, each person in the country receives about 300 kg of polished rice each year and 350 kg of paddy rice.
Vilayvanh said most people living in urban areas have a rice surplus but some people in rural areas suffer from a shortage because they have limited farmland.
Laos produces a rice surplus of about two million tonnes a year, which is exported to Europe and traded across borders with neighbouring countries.
The ministry plans to shoulder more responsibility for rice production and to boost cooperation with government and development partners to grow more rice.
This is aimed at shoring up food security and producing a higher quality crop, Mr Vilayvanh said.
The goal is to have a large stockpile of rice, regulate markets, sales and exports, provide rice in times of disaster, and have seeds that are similar in quality and variety to those of other countries.
The minister said agriculture should be a major income source for the country, especially for local communities, as most people are still dependent on agricultural products for their livelihood.
As Laos possesses abundant natural resources, a stronger agriculture sector will help the country to grow more crops so that it can compete with other Asean countries