By Somsak Pongkhao
Oudomxay, October 10, 2017
Oudomxay provincial authorities have recognised the need to grow crops and raise animals on large scale farms if the province is to benefit from the construction of the US$5.8 railway that will pass through the area.
Provincial Governor Mr Phetsakhone Luangaphay told Lao media recently that large scale farms would ensure a sustainable quantity of high quality crops and livestock.
“Chinese companies have told us we need to carry out large-scale production if we want to supply the railway and other development projects in the province,” he said.
“At present we have one family that has just two or three pigs, but the railway project requires several hundred pigs per day or week to feed workers.”
One of the main challenges is that most people in Laos are in the habit of growing crops mainly for their own consumption and sell a small surplus to local markets.
Much more needs to be done to attract foreign investment in the farming sector, particularly investment from China, so that modern machinery and methods can be used to boost productivity. Higher production would supply the needs of the railway project and result in more goods and livestock for export.
The 417-km railway, which will connect Vientiane to the Chinese border through the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha, passes through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.
The railway is under construction and set to be completed by 2021. It is one part of a massive scheme that will link China southwards to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Mr Phetsakhone is determined that Oudomxay will work with the relevant authorities and Chinese companies to ensure that local people are employed in the construction of the railway.
Oudomxay is situated in northern Laos and 85 percent of its terrain is mountainous.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is recorded at about 7 percent annually and income per capita has steadily increased.
The provincial authorities are promoting commercial-scale production as a means to help local people alleviate poverty.
Officials have been assigned to help people grow crops and breed livestock. In every region, the authorities are being encouraged to produce something that is symbolic of their area.
More farmers and entrepreneurs are planting fruit trees and other industrial tree species instead of bananas.
“We are encouraging farmers to breed cattle and grow crops for commercial purposes,” Mr Phetsakhone said.
Critics say it’s essential that farmers have secure markets for their crops and are paid a fair price.
Oudomxay is also looking to promote tourism by developing new visitor attractions and improving tourism-related services.
This year, the province experienced flash flooding which killed two people, and floods swamped 371.29 hectares of rice fields. Lost livestock included eight cows and two goats while 54 fish farms were inundated.
Oudomxay provincial authorities reported damage of over 26 billion kip as a result of flooding last month, with 381.29 hectares of crops damaged in total.