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The aim of this survey was to characterise rice production in the Savannakhet Plain, which has long been a major rice bowl for Laos. Though situated in this generally favourable environment for rice, the survey villages encompassed a variety of agroecosystems. Upper paddies with sandy soils were drought-prone and without irrigation, hence could only support wet-season rice with lower yields. Lower paddies were more fertile and often had access to pump irrigation from rivers, canals, or ponds; hence, they could often support wet- and dry-season rice crops with somewhat higher yields. Lower paddies along the floodplain of the Champhone River also had fertile soils but were frequently flooded in the wet season; hence, only dry-season rice could be cultivated. The villages had different combinations of these agroecosystems, affecting their surplus-producing potential. The survey shows that, even with low yields and low returns, rice production in the Savannakhet Plain can generate a sizeable surplus for marketing within Laos and internationally. However, farmers are going to remain poor unless they can achieve higher yields and obtain higher and more stable prices. Low incomes will increase the incentives for younger household members to migrate to Vientiane or to Thailand for employment, adding to the shortage of farm labour. Nevertheless, given its comparative advantage in rice production, the Savannakhet Plain is a good focal area for increased investment in research, extension, input supply, mechanisation, and infrastructure to boost productivity and farm incomes.
A small area of upland rice is produced in the hilly interior towards the Vietnam border, though this is probably under-reported.
- Rainfed and Irrigated Rice Farming on the Savannakhet Plain
- Springer Singapore
- Chapter 7
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