Wor­ries about inad­e­quate food sup­plies af­ter Laos floods

The Nation - - ASEANPLUS -

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.

Ris­ing prices

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.

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