Vientiane Times, February 14, 2015
The extent of Cassava plantations in Borikhamxay province has shrunk after the provincial authorities stepped in to prevent expansion. The total area in the province devoted to growing cassava during the 2013/14 season of 13,770 hectares has dropped to about 10,860 hectares in 2014/15 according to the provincial agriculture section. Farmers cut back on the amount of cassava planted as the quality of the soil in some areas went down, section head Mr Keosa Saengvong told Vientiane Times this week. Most of the farmers are not familiar with the techniques required to raise the quality of the soil. Many hectares of forest had been taken over by local farmers for growing cassava, he said.
The provincial authorities, especially the agriculture and forestry sector, are trying to prevent the expansion of the cassava growing because of the loss of forest land this would cause, said Mr Keosa. Cassava can still be grown in some areas as there are growers who know how to improve the quality of the soil but not all of them do, he said.
“We are limiting cassava cultivation as we would like to see other commercial crops being grown, ones that don’t have such a bad effect on the soil,” Mr Keosa commented.
Borikhamxay province is one of the largest producers of cassava in the country and it has two processing factories, one in Pakkading district with the other in Borikhan district. Despite the number of cassava growers having reduced, the market demand is still high. In some other provinces, however, the number of cassava growers is increasing and this is especially true in Vientiane province. The number there is increasing because the market demand is still high, the provincial agriculture section Deputy Head, Mr Kham-arisone Theppanya reported. There is currently about 3,000 hectares of land given over to cassava, with most of it in Meaungmeun, Maed, Hinherp and Xanakharm districts, he said. Farmers can sell their crop to two cassava processing factories in Meaungmeun and Hinherp districts, while most of the farmers in Sanakharm district are exporting their crop to Thailand. The country is encouraging farmers and business units to produce 1.51 million tonnes of cassava this fiscal year after exports reached 1.5 million tonnes last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.