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30 June 2010

Rice millers seek to raise production

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Stakeholders involved in the “Enhancing Milled Rice Production in the Lao PDR” project in Vientiane met recently to identify obstacles to commercial rice production.

Head of the Vientiane Agriculture and Forestry Department's Planting Section, Dr Lasay Nouanthasing, said the discussion aimed to seek solutions to such issues.

“We are trying to pinpoint the barriers to rice production for domestic sale, the policies needed to overcome these barriers, and the regulations needed to drive commercial rice production,” he told the Vientiane Times.

The project, which is worth more than 26.6 billion kip (2.3 million euros) and supported by the European Union, aims to increase the supply of good quality milled rice for domestic consumption and trade.

The project is being rolled out in Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan and Champassak provinces, and in Vientiane.

In Vientiane, some 32 villages in Xaythany, Xaysettha, Pakngum and Hadxaifong districts have been selected to launch the project.

Participants from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce's Production Promotion for Sale Department, the Vientiane Industry and Commerce Department, rice millers, banks and representatives of the farming community all attended the meeting.

“The outcomes of the meeting will help policymakers formulate appropriate policies to overcome the obstacles,” Dr Lasay said, adding that solutions have to be sought at the central government level.

“After this meeting, further meetings with five provinces will be held to discuss what

regulations we need to formulate and what proposal we will submit to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.”

Officials believe the project will boost the supply of good quality domestic-made milled rice in local markets and even produce local-brand rice.

The project will work through 20 selected rice millers to enhance milled rice value chains by improving millers' managerial, technical and organisational capacity, and help smallholder farmers produce high quality paddy rice.

The scheme covers all production stages including training for farmers on better growing methods, and improvements in rice milling facilities and rice packaging.

The project, which began in January 2010 and will run until October 2011, is being implemented by the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry in collaboration with the Swiss Association for International Cooperation (Helvetas) and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV).

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