Vientiane Times, 24 July, 2013
The Sustainable Natural Resources Management and Productivity Enhancement Project is encouraging farmers in southern provinces to grow organic vegetables for commercial sale to boost their household incomes. However, some farmers still have a lack of education to manage pests, insects and techniques to treat their vegetables and other crops if pests become a problem.
Southern farmers in Savannakhet, Attapeu, Saravan, Xekong and Champassak provinces recently gathered in Kaysone Phomvihane district, Savannakhet province to learn about integrated pest management in vegetable gardens and rice fields. During the training course, they learnt various techniques how to get rid of insects and ways to protect pest impacts in their gardens and fields. Farmers also have a better understanding about techniques to produce micro-organisms for use in producing organic crops. The training course was effective and will allow all participants to put their education from the course to use in agriculture in their communities, according to National Project Director, Mr Vinoth Vansy. It also served to encourage farmers from different areas to exchange their experiences, consult in relation to what the main problems affecting crops production were in the past and how to resolve those issues.
Mr Vinoth commended the project for promoting farmers in target areas, especially Kaysone Phomvihane district, to produce organic vegetables for sale, taking their cue from organic vegetables farmers’ groups in Vientiane.
Organic agriculture will help farmers to yield higher prices for their crops and can increase farmers’ incomes as there is a high market demand and organic agriculture will prove to be sustainable in the future Organic agriculture also has considerable export potential and Laos will be well placed to take advantage of its position with the coming integration with Asean and the region as a whole. The government currently focusing on the promotion of organic agriculture, which will help to ensure the health and safety of the Lao people, requires farmers to spend much less in terms of imports, and is highly sought after by consumers as it is chemical free.
After studying the theory, trainers will also have the opportunity to practice in the field, in particular, collecting pest samples in the garden to diagnose and investigate, discovering the types of pests and seeking to destroy them. However, Mr Vinoth said that some farmers have received training and developed their skills but they did not carry on to teach other farmers.
The project began in 2010 and will conclude in 2015, with supporting funds provided by the Asian Development Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development.