By Meuangkham Noradeth and Kheuy Xaysomboun
January 26, 2013
Agricultural production is key for improving the quality of life in the two focal development points of Longcheng and Hom in Xaysomboun district, Vientiane province.
Improved farming and animal husbandry can help to improve local people’s living standards under government plans to eradicate poverty nationwide by 2020.
Poor families in the district have depended on farming and animal husbandry for their livelihood for many centuries, and encouraging greater productivity is vital for raising people above the poverty line.
But many villagers lack knowledge of modern farming methods, and assistance from agricultural technicians is essential to increase the quality and quantity of crop yields.
Xaysomboun is on the list of the 47 poorest districts in Laos, so district officials are working non-stop to develop the community and improve villagers’ circumstances.
Besides this, assistance from the government, international organisations and other agencies is important to help the district achieve basic poverty alleviation and meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 as targeted.
Longcheng and Om contain 10 villages that are home to 1,403 families of 8,389 people. At present 319 families are classified as living in poverty but their living standards are improving year by year, said the Head of Longcheng focal development point, Mr Bounpheng Phimphongs avanh.
Longcheng and Hom comprise people of the Lao Loum, Hmong and Khmu ethnic groups. Some families are struggling to better their lot after being affected by extreme weather events in recent years .
Last fiscal year, large areas of rice fields were flooded, vegetable crops were destroyed and livestock died during heavy tropical storms.
Some sections of road leading to these two areas were cut off by landslides, meaning villagers were unable to transport their crops to nearby sales points.
Last fiscal year, the government focussed on improving basic infrastructure, especially roads, schools, dispensaries, artesian wells and irrigation, because these will further development in the district, said Mr Bounpheng.
Access roads are essential because it enables villagers to transport their crops to markets, which is essential for them to earn an income.
District officials are encouraging villagers to plant a variety of crops, includi ng sweetcorn, on 179 hectares of land, oranges on an area of 16 hectares, and rice and other crops on 126 hectares.
They are also encouraging more villagers to become involved in animal husbandry, so they can raise cattle and poultry for sale and their own consumption.
Funding contributions are essential to improve basic infrastructure in Vientiane province and help lift the province out of poverty.
The province is home to 87,815 families. At present 4,828 of those families are living in poverty, but provincial officials hope that all poverty will be wiped out by 2020.
The province has 504 villages and, while all communities have road access, some are difficult to reach in the rainy season.
The average income of poor families in the province is now not less than 180,000 kip per month, indicating that people’s living standards are improving year by year.
The Lao government defines poverty as not having enough food, lacking adequate clothing, not having permanent housing and lacking access to health, education and transportation services.