FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 02/01 - LAOS* (5 February)
LAOS* (5 February)
As part of a wider phenomenon, which affected neighbouring countries in the region, extensive floods damaged large areas of the country. Overall, seven central and southern provinces were flooded during the monsoon season resulting in serious damage to crops and, to a lesser extent, livestock and fisheries. Rice crops in some areas remained submerged for up to three weeks. The worst affected provinces were Khammouane, Savannakhet, Saravane and Champasack. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry described the floods as the worst to have hit the country since 1978. Some 450 000 people were affected, many of whom were made homeless. The floods are likely to lead to slower growth in agriculture and will have a severe impact on the food security of the most vulnerable and at risk population as rice prices are anticipated to rise and incomes and access to food fall. Rice is the country's principal crop accounting for 85 percent of total cropped area. Other crops grown include maize (second largest in acreage), sugarcane and groundnut. Most of the rice is produced in the wet season (June to November), largely under rain fed conditions and in the central and southern provinces along the Mekong River Valley, where annual rainfall ranges from 1500 mm to 2200 mm, 70 percent of which is received between May and October. Farmers do not generally apply any fertilizers to rice under rain fed conditions during the wet season. Serious floods in 1995 and 1996 resulted in substantial rice deficits, resulting in the country requiring external food assistance for vulnerable groups.
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently assessing the food supply situation and the need for any food assistance. In addition, FAO will provide urgent rice and vegetable seeds to some 8 000 rural families affected by last year's floods.