Agricultural imports to help Champassak farmers

By Khamphone Syvongxay
January 7, 2011

Rice farmers in Champasak, Laos

The agriculture and forestry sectors in Champassak province are coordinating with other involved sectors to provide supplies for rice farmers affected by water shortages during the last wet season to boost production in the dry season.

Materials include fertilisers, seedlings and pesticides, according to the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department Director Mr Soupany Siripounyo.

In the past, the province only imported these products within the quota limits set by provincial authorities.

To help farmers increase their rice yield this dry season, they will be allowed to import more products from neighbouring countries, namely Thailand.

Normally import quotas mean farmers have to buy the products in Laos at extra cost, which is an obstacle to hitting the dry season target, said Mr Soupany.

About 13,000 hectares of the province will be supplied with water during the dry season using electrical and pump irrigation.

“Many irrigation machines in the province need to be repaired as they are old so we are seeking assistance from the government,” he explained.

As a result of the current high rice prices a lot of farmers are focusing on planting dry season rice to produce a commercial crop to sell.

The department has also sent provincial staff to work with district authorities to promote new farming techniques suitable for the climatic conditions.

Mr Soupany added that farmers had now completed planting 1,500 hectares of rice, equating to 14 percent of the planned total, which is expected to yield 5.7 tonnes per hectare.

Low rainfall and pests destroyed more than 19,000 hectares of rice during the wet season, leaving farmers to produce only 150,000 tonnes – last year the province had a rice surplus of 100,000 tonnes.

Source

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