Drought raises concerns over Lao rice production

Philippines News Agency

VIENTIANE, July 1 -- Late wet season rain has raised concerns over rice production in several Lao provinces, according to state-run daily Vientiane Times on Tuesday.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, drought has forced some farmers to re-seed their properties. Most farmers in Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Xieng Khuang and Huaphan provinces are only now starting sowing rice seeds.

The setbacks have called into question whether the government's rice production target of 3.2 tons per hectare for this year can be met.

Each year a large amount of rice production is lost due to natural disasters such as drought and floods.

Last year, the ministry encouraged farmers to achieve a yield of 2.9 tons per hectare with a target of 720,000 hectares nationally. Of that, however, over 45,500 hectares were damaged by floods, which destroyed thousands of tons of crop.

According to Vientiane Times, assistance from Vietnam and China has enabled Laos to produce a rice seed of higher quality. These quality seeds and improved rice varieties are more adaptable to environment and climate changes.

The ministry aimed to increase rice production from 3.8 million tons to 4 million tons this year.

Laos is one of the largest rice growers in the ASEAN region, with annual rice exports to Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries averaging 200,000-300,000 tons.

Since 2000, Laos has been able to sufficiently meet domestic demand for rice. In subsequent years the focus of rice production has become increasingly export oriented. Annually, Laos has approximately one million tons of surplus.

According to Vientiane Times, the government is still welcoming domestic and foreign investment in rice production to further increase yield by providing farmers with access to technology. (PNA/Xinhua)

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