ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Money needed to restore flood damage
The Laos agriculture sector has asked the government to provide 170 billion kip (US$21.2 million) to expand and repair irrigation systems devastated by recent flooding across the country.
More than 64,400 hectares of rice fields have been damaged by flooding this wet season, of which about 35,000 hectares are in areas where irrigation systems are available, according to a government source.
The Irrigation Department told Vientiane Times this week that most irrigation systems in rice producing provinces were damaged when tropical storm Nock-Ten hit Laos on July 30.
Without repairs to irrigation systems for the upcoming dry season, many villagers will face severe rice shortages for several months, according to agriculture officials.
The government discussed flooding restoration efforts during its monthly meeting last week and agreed that more than 600 billion kip (US$74.6 million) is needed to repair essential infrastructure, including irrigation.
The department says the 170 billion kip of funding would mean dry season rice production would increase from 120,000 hectares to 136,000 hectares.
Champassak province alone has requested 35 billion kip (US$4.3 million) in government assistance to develop and repair irrigation systems damaged or destroyed by flooding.
Champassak provincial Department of Agriculture and Forestry Deputy Director Mr. Khamlek Boungnavong told Vientiane Times that 15 billion kip (US$1.8 million) of this amount is needed to repair irrigation systems covering 7,000 hectares of dry season farmland.
"The rest will be used to build new irrigation systems that reach 4,000 hectares of farmland. If we receive 35 billion kip from the government our dry season crop production will increase from 12,000 to 16,000 hectares," he said.
"One of our most pressing concerns is that our province is still experiencing flooding and if authorities can't complete repairs to irrigation systems by November, farming activities will be affected into the dry season."
This year, Champassak province suffered three major floods, all of which affected roads, schools, hospitals and crops.
Khamlek said the latest flood, which occurred when the Mekong River overflowed, inundated 18,396 hectares of rice fields, of which 13,208 hectares are damaged and 7,000 hectares are located in irrigated areas.
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