Vientiane proposes loan repayment postponement for flooded farmers

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Vientiane Agriculture and Forestry Department has suggested that the government consider postponing loan repayments for farmers to help them get back on their feet following this year’s devastating floods.

The government should also offer a reasonable loan policy for agribusinesses so they can import fertilisers and equipment for use in the wet season rice harvest and preparation of the dry season crop.

Almost 4,200 families in 346 villages of six districts in Vientiane have been affected by flooding after weeks of rain, the department’s Director, Dr Lasay Nouanthasing, told the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Lien Thikeo, when he visited the department yesterday.

The extreme weather has damaged 6,638 hectares of wet season rice that had the potential to yield 33,190 tonnes worth 66.15 billion kip.

Also affected are 195 hectares of sweetcorn, equal to a yield of 966 tonnes worth 1.14 billion kip, 558 hectares of cassava with an expected yield of 12,960 tonnes worth 6.48 billion kip, 289 hectares of bananas with a potential yield of 26,000 tonnes worth 78 billion kip, as well as vegetable plots and fruit orchards.

The most affected districts are Xaythany, Naxaithong, Hadxaifong, Pakngum, Sikhottabong and Sangthong.

Initial estimates put the damage bill at around 207 billion kip.

While livestock deaths were not a problem as farmers were prepared and removed their animals to higher ground, more than 100 fields of pasture were inundated, Dr Lasay said.

Some 1,325 fishponds covering 331 hectares were also flooded, destroying more than 9.8 million fingerlings, while 12 fish farms lost 7,000 kg of fish as well as 150,000 shrimp and 5,000 frogs.

Early assessments from the livestock sector put the cost of the damage at around 25 billion kip.

Various irrigation systems have also been damaged.

“To rehabilitate these areas in the short to long term, the department needs 67.9 billion kip to buy rice seeds, vegetable seeds, maize seeds, fertiliser, fingerlings, tadpoles, shrimp stock, pasture seed, pig feed, rice storage facilities, animal vaccines and carry out irrigation repairs,” Dr Lasay said.                 

Next year, the department will encourage farmers in Vientiane to plant 15,800 hectares of dry season rice, 7,138 hectares of vegetables, 6,100 hectares of commercial crops and 760 hectares of fruit, he added.

The department will also supply 90,000 tonnes of grass seed, 1.3 million fingerlings, 2,500 tadpoles and 75,000 shrimp stock to farmers affected by flooding.

To ensure adequate water supply in the 2018-2019 dry season, the department plans to repair damaged irrigation systems along the Mekong and Nam Ngum rivers and install sluice gates and irrigation dams on various streams in affected districts.

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