FAO in Lao People's Democratic Republic

FAO, Ministry mark International Year of Soils

14/12/2015(Vientiane Times) Vientiane.- The Department of Agricultural Land Management joined with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation on Monday for a workshop to mark the International Year of Soils 2015. The purpose of the International Year of Soils is to raise awareness worldwide of the importance of soils for food security and agriculture as well as in the mitigation of climate change, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development. Monday's workshop was chaired by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phouangparisack Pravongviengkham and FAO Representative to Laos, Dr Stephen Rudgard. Also in attendance were agricultural officials, experts, technicians, students and entrepreneurs, and staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and international organisations. Participants shared their experiences and exchanged information about soil and its importance, land surveys in Laos, land management, agricultural land development, and land issues and solutions. The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, has allocated more land for agriculture but this has yet to yield results as the process has encountered various obstacles, Dr Phouangparisack said. However, the ministry hopes to meet its target to allocate 4.5 million hectares of agricultural land as quickly as possible to guarantee sustainable production and improve yields. Laos has strong potential for agricultural production due to its rich natural resources, while most Lao people are still dependent on agriculture, Dr Phouangparisack said. “We are aware of the urgent need to allocate a certain number of hectares for livestock breeding, rice cultivation and commercial crops,” he added. “After allocating land for these purposes, we need to create effective measures to regulate its management and development for sustainable long-term benefits.” Laos also has the potential to grow organic vegetables and other crops for sale and export as the soil in many areas is uncontaminated. But the land in other places needs to be improved as about 60 percent of agricultural land in Laos is not very fertile, according to the ministry. This will required close cooperation from the relevant sectors, entrepreneurs and experts to seek suitable measures that will improve soil health. The International Year of Soils was declared by the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2013 after recognising or December 5 as World Soil Day.