Agriculture does the most to improve the living standards of Lao people

Introduction:Lao agriculture enjoys rapid growth following liberation. This special report is one of a series telecasted in Lao National Television English Language News Bulletin to mark the 60th anniversary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party on March 22.

Story:Despite industry, especially energy and mining, being the sector that seems to attract the most interest from potential domestic and foreign investors it’s agriculture that does the most to improve the living standards of Lao people.

Laos remains a largely agricultural nation with some 80 percent of the population reliant on agriculture for their living.

When Laos achieved liberation in 1975, the country required foreign assistance to develop because at that time most of the people were unable to support themselves.

Most families only had yam and taro in their diets as there was no rice available, although some had sufficient rice for a few months and a small number of animals.

In those days many people had to hunt and forage for fruit and vegetables in the forests for their survival.

It was well recognised at the time, however, that the country had a high potential for growing many types of crops like rice and other cereals and vegetables and also for livestock breeding.

In 1986 the government initiated a wise policy to open cooperation with other countries. The government in cooperation with international organisations has spent a lot of time and effort in promoting the growing of crops for personal consumption and sale, building irrigation systems to improve water supply and creating model families for livestock breeding.

Through the efforts of farmers under the leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, Laos was able to become self-sufficient in rice production by the year 2000, although there are still some people in remote areas who don’t yet have enough rice for their daily needs.

In 2004, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, urged farmers to produce 2.5 million tonnes of rice. In 2011 this was increased to 3.34 million tonnes and reached 3.41 tonnes in fiscal year 2012-2013.

The government will continue to push for an increase in production by livestock breeders so that meat and fish supply can reach 53kg per person. The government also plans to expand the irrigation system to supply water in the dry season to about 180,000 hectares and to 260,000 hectares in the wet season.

The government will also improve facilities to manage exports of commercial products such as rubber, sugar, coffee, tea, maize and cassava.

Last year, Laos earned about US$394 million from crop exports through plant protection border checkpoints of the Agriculture Department.

Source: Lao National Television
Broadcast on March 25, 2015