CLMV countries have great potential for agricultural production particularly in rice cultivation
Introduction: CLMV countries have great potential for agricultural production. If they can join forces to boost output, these countries could all become global suppliers of agricultural produce. According to Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Nam Vinhaket, The cultivation of cash crops, particularly rice, is the main livelihood of the citizens of each of these countries.
Story: Cooperation in the agriculture sector is one of eight priority areas approved by the five member countries under the framework of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy or ACMECS.
According to Dr Nam Vinhaket, If we study the geography of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, it is evident that these countries all have significant potential for the development of agriculture, both within the South East Asian grouping and as part of Asean. Already, agriculture is the economic mainstay of these countries.
Interview: Dr Nam Vinhaket, Minister of Industry and Commerce
According to him, The cultivation of cash crops, particularly rice, is the main livelihood of the citizens of each of these countries. People have years of experience in growing rice on hillsides and in lowland areas. They are well versed in both traditional farming methods and the use of modern farming equipment to grow crops on a commercial basis.
Interview: Dr Nam Vinhaket, Minister of Industry and Commerce.
“A large number of farmers in these countries are experts in the cultivation of rice and are in a position to advise other countries on how to grow rice for export. Vietnam and Thailand have long been recognised worldwide as large-scale exporters of rice, and are the biggest producers of the crop among the Asean nations. Every year, they export millions of tonnes of good quality rice to world and Asean markets, including Laos. Imported rice is readily available in Lao markets.”
Agriculture is the lifeblood of Laos, with 80 percent of the population growing various crops for both sale and local consumption. Rice is by far the largest crop grown and some is sold to Vietnam and Thailand, but Lao rice is not as widely known globally as that produced by Vietnam and Thailand.
If the ACMECS countries can jointly boost rice production, Laos could see its exports soar to rival those of its neighbours. If Laos could sell its rice on world markets, it would significantly boost its economic position among the five nations. This would place Laos on a more secure footing and serve to ease its integration within the sub-region, Asean, and globally.
Laos certainly has the potential to become a rice exporter if all parties involved are willing to work to develop the sector. The problem at present is that the overall quality of the rice grown in Laos is low. Seeds must be improved if they are to equal the quality of those used by Vietnamese and Thai farmers.
If all five countries become global suppliers of rice, it will go some way towards closing the huge development gap that exists at present and create a more balanced regional grouping.
LNTV Lao News broadcast on 02/04/2013