Vientiane Times, 7 August, 2013
Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad visited Champassak province recently to encourage local people to boost their productivity and grow crops for commercial sale and export. The Deputy PM was welcomed by Champassak Provincial Governor Sonexay Siphandone and other officials before visiting a number of agricultural production projects in the region.
Mr Somsavat first visited an integrated agriculture production project operated by Pavina Agriculture Development Co Ltd at Nongbuathong village, Mounlapamok district of Champassak province. The project covers an area of 10,000 hectares, of which 5,000 hectares are owned by local farmers, but the company supplies them with crop seeds and fertiliser. The project employs more modern equipment and techniques to grow more rice and en hance the yield. In 2011-12, 400 hectares of rice were grown under the project with an output of more than 1,200 tonnes to supply the domestic market. This was the initial stage of the project which will be expanded in the near future.
In addition, the project encouraged villagers in other districts of Champassak province to produce crops for market purposes by supplying farmers with crop seeds and fertiliser. Deputy PM Somsavat congratulated the company for investing in this project, saying that it will contribute to enhancing domestic production and respond to market needs. He urged the relevant sectors to work in cooperation with this project in order to create a sustainable project which does not cause environmental impact to the area and contributes to improving the livelihoods of local people.
After that, the Deputy PM visited a coffee producing association on the Bolaven plateau. Established in 2009, the association offers non-profit services to farmers to produce coffee for export. So far, the association has 2,700 members and 56 producers’ groups in three districts on the plateau. In 2012-13, the association exported almost 1,000 tonnes of coffee to 10 different countries, with a total export value of US$4 million. Mr Somsavat told the relevant sectors to facilitate the association, ensuring that it can play a more important role in order to encourage farmers to produce quality coffee for export and earn more income to alleviate their poverty.
Next, Mr Somsavat visited the Lao-China agriculture cooperation centre in Pakxong district, Champassak province. The centre aims to create a demonstration farm and produce crop seeds using modern techniques and technology. The centre also organised training for students, technical officials and farmers on the Bolaven plateau, during which the trainees were lectured by Chinese experts in the field.
Mr Somsavat said the centre plays an important role in helping farmers in Champassak and believed that this project will contribute to enhancing cooperation between Laos and China. He encouraged the centre to create a model for producing crop seeds and good techniques in agriculture production, suggesting that it could also encourage farmers to produce more crops for export to China.