How can agriculture in Champassak province be improved?

Agriculture is essential for producing sufficient produce to meet market demand, especially with the current increase in tourism. Vientiane Times visited Champassak province recently to talk to farmers and other locals about what they saw as being necessary to improve conditions for crop cultivation and fishery.

 

Mr Phouthavong Phichit, a vendor in Khong district: The Mekong River ecosystem is fairly healthy but there is too much rubbish in the water.  People here in the south love and depend on fish and other aquatic foods so it is extremely important that the river is kept in as good a condition as possible. Authorities in all countries through which the Mekong runs need to ensure good policy and practices are in place to keep the river clean. Rather than dumping plastic bags full of waste, people should grow vegetables on the banks of the river. As well as feeding people, plants often help fish populations to thrive too. The ability of farmers to sell produce in the marketplace benefits them and the entire community. Agriculture that is sustainable is extremely important for the future prosperity of Laos.

Mr Domxay Phommachanh, a farmer in Sanasomboun district:  I have spent my entire life on the farm and grow organic fruits and vegetables. I also have a fish farm and I sell my produce at markets.  People know that the land in the south is fertile and good for crop cultivation. They should know that they need to protect it from harmful chemical fertilisers. There are organic fertilisers that can be used and farmers need to be aware of the options that are available to them. I also think that now would be a particularly pertinent time for provincial authorities to support investment in livestock farming and modern techniques to protect animals from disease. Incentives for youngsters to study and become qualified veterinarians would also be great for the agricultural industry. Too many parents these days are pressuring their children to get an office job while there continues to be a need for veterinarians.  Laos has the land and the climate to breed quality livestock if only the right infrastructure was in place to support it.

Mrs Somphone Phommachanh, a vendor in Sanasomboun district:  The more support provincial authorities provide for crop cultivation and livestock farmers the better the rewards will be for farms and agricultural communities. We have good land and a great climate for growing many kinds of crops.  People these days are demanding fresh, organically grown fruit and vegetables.  It is the grower’s responsibility to make sure this can be delivered. Training and access to the best methods of cultivating clean, high quality foods to support the health of the entire community is needed.  Many plants have medicinal qualities and farmers need to make sure these are available to consumers in the marketplace.

Ms Bong, a farmer in Pakxong district: I was born and raised on a farm so I know the land and climate in Pakxong is great for crop cultivation. In a basic sense not much else is needed to grow great produce. I would like government officials to provide more support to the livestock industry in Champassak. I think there is demand but undersupply in Pakxong.  More investment would mean residents would have more choice in quality locally sourced meats. More farming means more jobs for local residents as well. Not as many people seem to be growing rice any more.  In these parts many people are growing tea and coffee but they should remember that the Bolaven Plateau is a fertile place suitable for growing a range of fruit, vegetables and grains.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update January 31, 2019)


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