VIENTIANE, March 8 (Xinhua) -- The Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has set this year's target for dry season rice production lower after the country's rice farmers failed to meet last year's estimate.
Last season, the Department of Agriculture under the ministry encouraged farmers around the country to grow 126,000 hectares of rice but they were only able to plant 98,000 hectares, local daily Vientiane Times quoted the department's report as saying on Wednesday.
This dry season, the department has set a target to grow 95,000 hectares but until now has only planted about 90,000 hectares or 95 percent of the planned output.
Large numbers of rice farmers, especially those in the northern parts of the country, have shifted to growing small commercial crops which leads to better profits and requires less water.
The challenge for the agriculture and forestry sector now is to have rice production reach its target of 4.3 million tons this fiscal year.
In an attempt to increase productivity, agricultural authorities have urged farmers to use modern technology and good seed varieties.
The Lao government has also urged farmers to produce quality rice for domestic supply and export only after surplus consumption.