Worries about inadequate food supplies after Laos floods
Natural disasters pose a threat to people in many parts of Laos and authorities are scrambling to carry our relief and repair operations in provinces that have been affected by floods.
In such situations, people usually worry about inadequate food supplies because floods damage farmlands and kill livestock.
However, the authorities are trying to control the prices of goods by advising traders to follow official regulations, but this is difficult when market mechanisms are affected by imbalance.
Many people believe that controlling prices alone is not an effective way to deal with this issue. If there is a greater supply of goods, products will automatically be cheaper.
Currently, consumers are paying more for rice, vegetables and fish due to a strong demand and lack of supply. Many producing areas cannot supply these goods due to floods and damage to transportation links. Experts have projected this effect will continue till next year’s harvest.
If the production season faces the same or worse impacts next year, food shortage will continue and there will be more pressure on consumers, including inflation.
According to the owner of a riceprocessing company in Xaythany district of Vientiane, grain is more expensive than last year and there is a great shortage of it.
Bounhieng Phommixay said she now pays 5,000 kip (about Bt20) for one kilogram of non-sticky paddy, up from 2,000 to 2,500 kip during the same period last year. She also pays 3,000 to 3,500 kip for one kilogram of sticky paddy, up from 2,000 kip to 2,500 kip.
The wet season is the main period for production of rice, but large areas in many provinces have been inundated this year.
To address this issue of insufficient food stocks, the authorities must frame a plan and take steps quickly to boost production in the dry season, which runs from the end of this year until May.
Yields from the dry season can help manage food prices if supply can meet the demand. In order to ensure the supply channels continue working, the government must remove all obstacles to production and check and fix all irrigation systems.
Cooperation among state organisations to promote production is very important, and if the yield is good, the movement of produce from farms to markets must be smooth.
Therefore, all government agencies must work together to come up with a special policy and measures to boost production for commercial purposes.
For instance, they could consider how to help farmers through tax cuts or duty exemption for imported agricultural equipment and goods such as fertilisers or machines.
Also farmers or traders who transport goods across the country should receive special facilities. All factors created by some state organisations that contribute to higher costs must be removed.
However, the most important thing is, every sector should follow the same roadmap to boost production so food shortage can be tackled efficiently.