Modern irrigation system rains down benefits on Lao farmers

By Somxay Sengdara
February 27, 2012

DA field of sweetcorn in Sendin village is watered by the Centrestar pivot irrigation system.

The first modern irrigation system that delivers water to crops in fine droplets officially went into service in Laos in Vientiane’s Naxaithong district on Friday.

The system was installed by the Bauer Group through a soft loan from the Austrian government of 2 million euros (about 20.3 billion kip) and participating funds of 7.5 billion kip provided by the Lao government.

The use of the modern Centrestar and Rainstar irrigation systems for agriculture in Laos was an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Irrigation Department. The department began installing the systems in late 2010 in 11 areas of agriculture in Vientiane, Borikhamxay, and Savannakhet provinces, and in the capital.

Sendin village in Naxaithong district now has five Centrestar pivots that deliver water over a radius of 350 metres and one Centrestar pivot that covers a radius of 250 metres. The six giant-sized sprinklers can water crops on an area of 240 hectares.

The Rainstar irrigation system has a 35-metre pipe length and has been installed at the National Agriculture and Forestry Institute’s Naphok, Haddokkeo and Nam Xuang agriculture centres. These irrigators can water 97 hectares of crops.

The Centrestar system will be used to water 258 hectares of crops in Vientiane province, 128 hectares in Borikhamxay province, and 50 hectares in Savannakhet province.

The Centrestar irrigator is the first ever modern agriculture technology to be used in Laos. Its sprinkler system produces fine droplets of water so that the crop is not damaged, and it can be used on vegetables without harming the leaves.

A ceremony held in Sendin village to put the irrigators into service was attended by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Khamphad Sourinphoumy, Austrian Ambassador to Thailand and Laos Dr Johannes Peterlik, other Lao and Austrian officials, and local authorities and residents.

“It is our obligation to secure water resources for the next generation. This project is a very small first step to help you to be more independent in future from imports, improve crop yields, save hard currency, and finally create a better life for people,” Bauer Group Sales and Marketing Director Mr Heimo Wiesinger said at the ceremony.

Irrigation Department Deputy Director General Mr Nuandeng Rajvong said the rain-style irrigation system is the first ever used in Laos and is a model for the irrigation of commercial crops. It saves water and energy, while increasing production effectiveness.

Sendin villager Mr Ounkeng Phaphong, whose 10 hectares of sweetcorn are being irrigated by the new system, told Vientiane Times with pride that the sprinkler was making his crops grow noticeably faster.

“How fast the sweetcorn is growing. Water is the main factor, so I am proud to benefit from this technology,” he said.

The irrigation systems are already operational in eight crop fields in Vientiane and Vientiane province, while the remaining three in Borikhamxay and Savannakhet provinces are being installed.


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