Outbreaks of pests, flooding disasters along with chilly weather that occurred early this year have been cited as the main causes why rice production in Laos has not met its target.
The National Assembly (NA)’s Eighth Legislature reported a summary of the socio-economic development plan implementation for the first 10 months a fiscal year 2015-2016, which expected the rice crop would be around 4.1 million tonnes or equal to about 98 percent of the 4.2 million tonne plan accepted by the NA.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Bounkhuang Khambounheuang, who is a NA member for constituency 13 in Savannakhet province, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday the national yield target was not met because many hectares of rice fields were badly affected by insects, flooding and bad weather.
However, this year’s rice production figure may have been reached if it counted the harvest for the whole year, he said.
The NA also noted that about one million hectares of rice cultivation would be required in order to achieve 2017’s national production target of over 4.3 million tonnes.
Not only that, about 100,000 tonnes of rice seed varieties will be needed to supply farmers across the nation.
In addition, investment in irrigation systems needs to be massively expanded along with the rehabilitation, repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure in a bid to increase crop yields for food security and commercial gain.
Irrigation schemes are particularly required to service large areas of rice cultivation in the eight provinces of LuangNamtha, Bokeo, Xayaboury, Vientiane, Borikhamxay, Savannakhet, Champassak, and Saravan and the capital.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the government was now continuing to build more irrigation schemes using its own budget and low-interest loans with higher yields helping to contribute significantly to socio-economic development and poverty reduction.
More than 778,000 hectares of wet season rice and over 126,600 hectares of dry season rice are grown annually in Laos.
About 226,000 hectares of rice fields in flatland areas are totally dependent on rainfall because irrigation channels have not yet been built in those areas.
However, the government has chosen Savannakhet and Khammuan provinces to be the country’s priority areas in a bid to increase yields for food security and export potential.
The state has chosen them for agriculture pilot projects which will then be extended to other provinces if they progress well.
Source: Vientiane Times