Laos not to face serious food shortages but temporary difficulties: minister

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/9/26 14:42:50

The Laos will not face serious rice shortages but will encounter temporary difficulties in supplying the staple grain, according to the country's National Ad Hoc Committee in charge of the post-disaster response.

This will occur in some provinces which usually require rice supplies from others. Lao Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lien Thikeo representing the committee made the comment at their first press conference last week to report on initial assessments of the impact of floods around the country.

"We will not face serious shortages of food but will face temporary difficulty only," local daily Vientiane Times on Wednesday quoted Lien as saying.

According to the minister, losses in the agriculture and forestry sector have been estimated at 1,260 billion kip (some 148 million US dollars).

Some 90,600 hectares or around 12 percent of planted rice fields were damaged by floods and 3.2 million tons of rice will be generated from the harvest of wet season paddy fields.

The capital Vientiane and some other provinces will face temporary rice shortages which the minister said would occur due to long-distance transportation.

Lien said even though serious losses were incurred by communities in the lowlands of central provinces, these self-sufficient areas were the nation's main sources of food production and commercial agriculture with rice in reserve. "There will be some limits for them in supplying food to other provinces," he noted.

The ministry will also cooperate with other related sectors, especially the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, to use any necessary measures in controlling food prices, especially rice, to prevent illegal stockpiling and attempted price manipulation by some traders, Lien explained.

To compensate the loss in rice production, the ministry is planning 100,000 hectares of rice cultivation in the upcoming dry season.

The minister said the dry season rice planting in many irrigation systems did not fill their water capacity and the ministry would encourage farmers to make an extra effort especially in gravity-fed irrigation systems.

The dry season rice planting will compensate the recent loss of at least 300,000 tons of rice crop, he said.

The ministry has forecast 6,000 tons of rice seed will be needed for planting in the upcoming dry season.

According to Minister Lien, the ministry has 4,300 tons of rice seed for supplying the nation's needs with the hope that farmers will get the rest from their colleagues.

A total of 2,409 villages containing 113,507 families across Laos have been affected by floods after two tropical storms battered Laos from July to September, in which 55 people died, two people were injured and 100 people are still missing.

Some 1,772 houses, 301 schools, 35 health centres, 35 roads, 915 electricity poles and 52 bridges were damaged, while 1,587 goats, 7,424 cattle, 4,105 pigs, 3,686 buffalo, and 70,137 ducks and chickens reportedly have been lost.

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