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Authorities cultivating rice seed aid for flood-affected farmers 

Agricultural production authorities have confirmed that 1,500 tonnes of rice seeds are now available for distribution to farmers affected by the recent floods in six central and southern provinces.
Head of the Division for Production Promotion, under the Department of Technical Extension and Agro-Processing, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Kongsy Xayavong said on Friday that his sector presently has a 1,500-tonne rice seed store for the coming November to March dry season. 

The division is ready to support flood-affected farmers in Khammuan, Savannakhet, Attapeu, Saravan, Champassak and Xekong provinces with more than 130,500 hectares of rice fields damaged. 
The division is waiting upon direct requests following assessment from local authorities; however, Mr Kongsy believed his division would be able to supply enough seeds to meet farmers’ demands as some flooded areas won’t be ready to plant rice this dry season.
In addition, the division will continue cooperation with development partners to enhance rice breeding by increasing the number of varieties available, which will help ensure that farmers can access more seeds. 
Authorities are encouraging farmers to adopt new cultivation techniques and equipment in planting rice aiming to reduce their cost of production.
Mr Kongsy added the division had distributed 120 tonnes of rice seeds to farmers in 10 targeted provinces during the wet season, especially 10 tonnes to help flood-affected farmers in Luang Prabang province and 30 tonnes for Xayaboury province.
Many provinces in central and southern Laos have struggled to cope with recent floods following days of heavy rain unleashed by tropical depression Podul. 
The Social Welfare Department reported the floods had affected 54,207 families in 788 villages of 37 districts. More than 130,500 hectares of rice fields, 251 hectares of vegetable plots and 953 fishponds have been damaged.
In addition, 26 irrigation channels, six bridges, many schools, two dispensaries and more than 130km of roads have been affected.
Environmental experts predict that climate change is expected to bring increasingly severe drought and flood conditions to Laos, with crop yields possibly falling 10 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by the year 2050.
This could further affect food security improvement measures which the government is continuing to work on with its agencies and non-government organisations.
While Laos’ commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 is to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030, the nation still has a significant level of malnutrition, as measured by the Global Hunger Index.
Around one-fifth of the population consumes less than the minimum dietary energy requirements. 


By Ounkham Pimmata 
(Latest Update September 16, 2019)

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