Laos wrapped up its main (wet season) rice crop in December and in January planted its second (dry season) rice crop. However the current crop is behind schedule and acreage may be lower than last year due to farmers planting alternative crops – watermelons, beans, eggplants, tomatoes, and chilies, according to the state-run newspaper Vientiane Times, in hope of higher returns compared to rice. Budget problems have left many irrigation systems in poor condition after destructive floods last year, according to local sources.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Laos reports farmers have only planted about 44,100 hectares of rice so far this season, down from a target of 126,000 hectares. Annual rice acreage in Laos is about 870,000 hectares, according to the USDA.
Laos produced about 3.5 million tons of paddy in 2013, according to FAO; the USDA estimates Laos’s 2013 paddy production much lower at about 2.4 million tons in 2013.
Brown Mang Onwuka