January 26, 2013
Khammuan provincial authorities need to increase commercial agricultural production in order to maximise the province’s potential, boost local development and help alleviate poverty within the community.
This was the message from Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong who visited the province on Thursday and Friday. The main aim of the visit was to talk to authorities and advise them on how to accelerate local development and poverty reduction.
The prime minister also visited a number of large development projects operating in the province including a potassium factory developed by a Chinese investor and an irrigation project downstream from the Nam Theun 2 dam.
During his meeting with local authorities, Mr Thongsing urged them to ensure that local people feel part of the activities being undertaken to improve their livelihoods so that they feel they have contributed to the development of the province.
He said that authorities need to supply more technical assistance to farmers so that they understand how to enhance their productivity and respond to market demands.
The prime minister also asked authorities to pay more attention to those who have made sacrifices for and contributions to national protection and development.
As more than 50 percent of the province’s terrain is mountainous, Mr Thongsing said they need to focus more on merging small villages into bigger ones and creating small towns in rural areas.
Khammuan province has a total population of over 372,000 people who live in 581 villages within the 10 districts. The province has potential for agricultural production, industrial forestry, hydropower development, mining, tourism and services.
In 2011-12, the province’s economy grew 12.7 percent with an income per capita of US$1,366. They operated 259 infrastructure projects in 2011-12 worth more than 10 billion kip, aiming to provide facilities for people to alleviate poverty and generate development in local areas.
In 2012-13 so far the province has approved 288 infrastructure projects worth 95.4 billion kip including road access to facilitate business and tourism activities
Total domestic and foreign investment in Khammuan for 2011-12 amounted to 30 projects worth almost US$600 million.
More local and foreign entrep reneurs are heading to Khammuan province to do business after the opening of the third Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River in 2011.
The bridge makes Khammuan the shortest route for exporters trucking goods to the central seaports of Vietnam from the six northern provinces of Thailand.
More goods from Laos and northeastern Thailand are now being exported via the province.
Despite its economic growth, the number of poor families in Khammuan remains high with 3,558 such families recorded in 2011-12.