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Laos renews efforts to save farmland
Publication Date : 21-08-2013
The ministries of Agriculture and Forestry and Public Works and Transport will partner more closely to manage agricultural production areas, aiming to ensure the best farmland is not lost to development projects.
The latest move comes after thousands of hectares of farmland have been appropriated for housing, other developments and construction projects in recent years, especially in areas surrounding Vientiane.
High-ranking officials from the two ministries led by Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Vilayvanh Phomkhe, and Minister of Public Works and Transport, Sommad Pholsena, yesterday met at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Vientiane to discuss moves to ensure agricultural development is more closely linked with improvements to transportation.
It was noted that due to the lack of cooperation and coordination from both sides, farmland, especially that used for rice and other cash crops has been given over to housing, factories and other commercial enterprises, which means valuable production areas close to city markets are being lost.
To better manage agricultural development, ensure domestic food security and promote exports, the two ministries have agreed to allocate priority focal areas for agriculture, by constructing irrigation systems and rural road access to those areas.
Many irrigation projects are currently being developed. The construction of water channels also necessitates the construction of roads running alongside them to allow earthmoving equipment to pass, which provides road access to local communities at the same time.
The two ministries may look at sharing funding to build irrigation systems together with adjacent road construction in suitable areas and so make better use of their construction b udgets.
Both sides can also hold discussions together to ban the public, and district and village authorities, from allowing the construction of houses and buildings in priority agricultural development areas.
Rice fields in some villages have been sold and transformed from once productive paddies to construction and development sites. This issue is challenging for the government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which aims to encourage farmers to grow more rice and other crops for export.
These two ministries can also benefit from better cooperation in relation to goods transportation from production areas to markets in Laos and also via road links to other countries in the region.
However, the two ministries will need to hold regular talks to find beneficial ways of cooperation for their mutual benefit and sustainability.
This is just the beginning o f discussions between these two ministries to seek ways forward in sustainable agriculture development and export production in the future .
Farmers in many areas of the country are still experiencing difficulties selling their products during the rainy season as bad roads hamper travel, while some areas still do not have any road access.
This meeting was an important first step towards improving integrated planning in agricultural development, transport infrastructure and municipal planning.
The two sides have agreed to use the Thangone agricultural flatlands area in Xaythany district, Vientiane, as a model project and will expand similar initiatives to other areas if this project proves successful.