Ministry reduces dry season rice target after farmers produce less
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has set this year's target for dry season rice production lower after the country's rice farmers failed to meet last year's mark.
Last season the Department of Agriculture under the ministry encouraged farmers around the country to grow 126,000 hectares of rice but they were only able to plant 98,000 hectares, the department reported.
This dry season the department, under agreement from relevant sectors of the ministry, have set a target to grow 95,000 hectares but until now have only planted about 90,000 hectares or 95 percent of the planned output.
Farmers around the country have currently completed their planting but some provinces have not yet reported their planting figures.
Large numbers of rice farmers, especially those in the northern parts of the country, have shifted to growing small commercial crops and their export as they can spend less initial investment capital and get higher yields which lead to better profits and requires less water as well.
Rice planting requires higher capital initially and can have large water requirements but also receives lower production on average than most other commercial crops.
However, the ministry can not confirm why rice farmers' output in Laos has tended to trend downwards as the ministry says that it has not yet studied the issue in detail.
Authorities have also deemed rice fields in the northern provinces unsuitable for expansion of irrigation systems as the yield is lower and, therefore, so is the return on investment.
Therefore, farmland in the region has already been filled up by other development projects including infrastructure, land concession and household expansion.
The dry season rice yield in different southern provinces, especially Borikhamxay, Champassak, Xekong and Saravan, has also decreased according to the Agriculture Department.
Champassak province, one of largest rice producers in the country, set a target to grow 12,500 hectares of rice this dry season but the farmers in the province have planted only 5,360 hectares, the provincial agriculture section has reported.
The challenge for the agriculture and forestry sector now is to have rice production reach its target of 4.3 million tonnes this fiscal year.
In an attempt to increase productivity, agricultural authorities have urged farmers to use modern technology and good seed varieties.
They have also stressed farmers to produce quality rice for domestic supply and export only after surplus consumption.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 08, 2017)