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Farmers call for urgent assistance as fuel crisis persists

Farmers across Laos are in desperate need of fuel and are pleading with the government to find an urgent solution to the ongoing shortage.
Villagers in Khammuan, Vientiane, Savannakhet and Luang Namtha provinces have been unable to get their crops in the ground as planned because they cannot get the fuel they need, while pumps at some petrol stations have run dry, meaning that many motorists are unable to use their vehicles.

 

In some areas, petrol stations are open only once or twice a week and are not allowing people to take fuel away in containers.
Farmers in Khammuan and Savannakhet who rely on machinery for farming say they have grave concerns about how they can survive and that their livelihoods are at stake. “If people can get only 20 litres of fuel to put in their tractor, they would rather let it sit idle at home,” one farmer said.
Meanwhile, many petrol stations will no longer fill bottles or other containers with fuel, citing safety concerns.
Most farmers say they are struggling to get enough fuel to plough their fields and water their crops, and steadily rising petrol prices are visibly affecting the poorest people.
In a post on social media, one man in Vientiane province said farmers had been to the district agriculture office to discuss the need for fuel, as this time of year is the main growing season.
“We explained that we are unable to plough our fields or water our crops if we can’t get fuel. The rising cost of fertiliser is also another serious problem, and has led to some farmers abandoning their fields this year,” he said.
Although some officials and fuel companies are attempting to downplay the situation, members of the public are demanding solutions instead of denials that a crisis exists.
The rapidly depreciating kip has made life increasingly difficult for fuel importing companies, causing gaps in supply and massive shortages around the country.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Lao Fuel and Gas Association have urged people to be frugal in their use of fuel and not to travel unnecessarily, so that enough reserves of petrol are available for use for farming and other essential activities.
Provinces across Laos have witnessed fuel shortages for weeks, and early warning signs came from Luang Namtha, which ran out of fuel in late March. The situation worsened in Pakxe city and Savannakhet province before the problem finally hit Vientiane several weeks ago.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
 (Latest Update June 3, 2022)


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