Increased agricultural production leading development efforts in Xekong

By Meuangkham Noradeth
January 15 , 2011

Expanding rice cultivation is one way for rural villagers to boost their incomes and improve their living standards.

Boosting agricultural production is an important factor in improving the living conditions of villagers in Thataeng district, Xekong province.

The vast majority of people living in the district depend on farming and natural resources to earn a living so local officials are encouraging increased agricultural production as a means to improve villagers’ living standards.

Local people in the district have undertaken agricultural activities for many centuries but a lack of knowledge regarding new techniques and technology means they remain unable to increase the quality and quantity of their crop yields, something officials are now working to change.

Encouraging greater agricultural production is one priority of the government in its efforts to boost employment and income opportunities for people around the nation, as increased incomes from the sale of various crops will contribute to developing the country and ensuring the nation moves off the UN’s list of least developed nations by the year 2020.

Farmers in Thataeng district have had success with commercial cultivation of coffee, cardamom, rubber, banana, rice, beans, mulberries and other crops, said Governor of the district Mr Khamsone Koneyer this week.

District officials are also encouraging more farmers to become involved in animal husbandry, including the raising of poultry and cattle for consumption and sale.

Farming is the main source of income for the majority of the district’s residents, especially poor families, and local officials are encouraging increased cultivation of various crops, he said.

Increasing agricultural pro- duction is a way for district officials to help develop their communities and improve villagers’ living standards under government plans to eradicate poverty nationwide by 2020.

“We have assisted local people to cease slash and burn cultivation and undertake more permanent farming practices,” said Mr Khamsone.

Although the district is not on the list of the 47 poorest districts in Laos, assistance from the government, international organisations and other sectors is important to help the district reach basic poverty alleviation goals by 2015.

Thataeng district is home to 34,399 families. At present 6,042 of those families are living in poverty, but district officials hope that all poverty will be eradicated by 2015.

The district contains a total of 53 villages and all communities have access roads that are open for travel all year round.

Average annual per capita income in the district is now just over 3 million kip, indicating that people’s living standards in the community are improving year by year.

Xekong provincial officials are focussing on improving basic infrastructure, especially roads, schools, health dispensaries and small irrigation systems because these will further development in the province.

Last year, there were 6,114 families classified as poor in the province and they are hoping the government and international organisations will continue to help them to improve their living standards.

Provincial officials will have to work hard if they are to make significant inroads into eradicating poverty by 2015. Officials are encouraging increased animal husbandry and agricultural production in their poverty reduction work.

The province receives assistance from the government’s Poverty Reduction Fund to build infrastructure and improve villagers’ living standards. The fund particularly assists with road building, a major factor in providing access to local markets and increasing incomes.

The PRF was established by a Prime Ministerial decree in 2003, with financing from the World Bank, and aims to substantially reduce village level poverty by 2020.

The objective of the fund is to help poor families in the seven target provinces of Xekong, Luang Namtha, Huaphan, Xieng Khuang, Savannakhet, Saravan and Champassak in a total of 21 districts. Funding is also used to promote good health through the use of clean water by building underground artesian wells.

The fund also builds schools and provides teachers and educational equipment, supports the production of commercial crops and animal husbandry, and encourages local people to participate in forest conservation.

Source

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