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Huaphan farmers struggle with dry season rice crop

Huaphan farmers struggle with dry season rice crop

Vientiane Times, 26 Oct 2009

Farmers in Huaphan province lack adequate irrigation systems to
produce enough dry season rice to guarantee an all year round supply
of rice.

Most people in the province only have enough rice to last them for 10
months of the year because of a lack of farmland and irrigation
systems, according to a report from provincial authorities.

Some farmers have to grow other crops such as sweetcorn, cassavas and
soybean to exchange for rice, a provincial agriculture section
technical staff member, Ms Lounthong Sivongphan, told Vientiane Times
on Wednesday.

She said Sopbau, Xiengkhor and Aed districts are suitable areas for
rice cultivation due the good soil conditions and the nearby Nam Ma
river, but there is a lack of adequate irrigation systems.

In the past farmers in these areas have used water from nearby dams to
water their dry season crops, but these water sources are unreliable,
said Ms Lounthong.

Xamneua and Viengxay districts experience cold weather and are not
suitable for growing rice, she said.

Last dry season provincial authorities encouraged farmers to plant
2,500 hectares of rice, but only 1,200 hectares were planted.

“This year we plan to encourage farmers to plant 2,000 hectares of
rice, but we are not sure if that target will be reached,” she added.

This wet season, the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department
brought 40kg of rice seeds from China for trial production in
Viengthong district. Initial reports are positive, but it is yet to be
established how many tonnes per hectare the variety yields.

The new variety will be trialled in the coming dry season in the
colder areas of the province, especially Xamneua and Viengxay
districts, said Ms Lounthong.

An outbreak of green leafhopper destroyed more than 2,000 hectares of
wet season rice, upland rice, sweetcorn and soybean crops in the
province last month.

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