A Vietnamese company will help farmers in Champassak province to plant rice in the coming wet season then buy the crop for processing into powder for export.
The company will also seek to obtain land concessions for additional rice cultivation in the districts of Soukhouma and Sanasomboun, provincial agriculture section Head Mr Somlith Viravong told Vientiane Times last week.
“The company is now building a rice mill in Khong district in preparation for the paddy rice it will buy from farmers,” he said.
Lao farmers are finishing harvesting their dry season rice crop.
“Farmers who are interested in joining the project will receive rice seeds and technical assistance from the company to cultivate the crop.”
“This scheme will help to guarantee a market for local farmers' rice and will give them expertise in growing better quality rice for greater profit,” he explained.
Last year Champassak province produced a surplus of rice but farmers were unable to sell the crop because it was of poor quality. Lacking the know-how to grow good quality rice, they are still growing the crop using traditional methods.
The use of poor quality rice seed prevents farmers from getting a decent price for their crop, not only in Laos but also in other countries.
Farmers grow almost any kind of rice for family consumption but if they want to produce crops for domestic or export sale, they should be using a standard, higher grade of seed.
The surplus of rice produced last year caused prices in the province to fall and many farmers were left struggling to sell enough to support their families. Mr Somlith believes the new scheme will mean farmers no longer face this problem and they will be able to earn a higher income from their crops.
Champassak province produces rice for export to more than 10 countries through private domestic companies. If the quality of rice grown can be sufficiently improved, there could be more demand from regional markets in the future.
The province has been able to produce an annual rice crop of about 400,000 tonnes in recent years, if not badly affected by drought or flooding. The authorities were unable to provide an exact figure for rice exports to Vietnam because the trade is carried out unoffi cially.
A Chinese company is also keen to operate a similar programme in the province but local authorities are not sure when they will be ready to start.