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Lao maize growers urged to limit plantation area
Publication Date : 26-09-2013
Xayaboury province in northwestern part of Laos will push for limited maize production in the province this fiscal year as growers and exporters struggle to find markets for their crops.
The provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department is now asking farmers to plant about 50,000ha of maize, aiming for a yield of 300,000 tonnes.
Most of the maize grown in the province is exported to Thailand as the Thai market has traditionally been the main destination for maize and other commercial crops.
But, according to the provincial Industry and Commerce Department, exporters can only sell maize in Thailand from March to June each year.
Department Director, Somdy Souksavath, said maize was still a major source of income for farmers but small and insecure markets were putting their livelihoods at risk.
Somdy said farmers harvested their maize from September until November or December each year but were forced to store their crop until they could sell it in Thailand in March.
Poor quality storage barns have resulted in maize weevils attacking crops in some years, and some traders have taken advantage of farmers' circumstances to buy their produce at a low price.
Somdy said some farmers were also struggling with the high costs of clearing farmland, employing labourers, and buying seeds and insecticide from Thailand.
He said the problem would only worsen next year under a Thai government proposal that would require all imported products to come with quality certification.
Somdy said the department was seeking to help farmers and exporters by encouraging domestic and foreign companies to invest in cultivating and processing maize.
“We will also encourage farmers to grow other commercial crops such as cassava and Job's tear, because there is more demand for these products,” he said.
The provincial authorities recently gave permission for a Chinese investor to build a factory that will process cassava into tapioca. The factory will be able to process about 400 tonnes of cassava per day, to be increased to 800 tonnes.
In 2011, sweetcorn traders had problems selling the crop to Thailand after the government introduced a temporary tax on food imports to protect domestic farmers.