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Farmers Told To Brace For Dry Three Months

Source: Vientiane Times

Laos farmers are expected to have difficulty finding enough water for wet season rice planting from May to July as hotter weather brings less rain, according to forecasters.

The Meteorology and Hydrology Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on May 6 gave its three-month forecast for May, June and July with 70-80 percent of days in Laos to be hot along with thunderstorms and hail in some areas.

However, the storms will result in lower than average rainfall this season.
Hot weather from May to June has often led to reduced vegetable yields as farmers in many areas can’t access water sources for their agricultural production.

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These are challenging the government’s targets for this year’s rainy season rice target to cover 870,000 hectares and yielding 4 million tonnes.

In recent years, the direct impact of climate change and global warming can be seen with the changing weather patterns, including the recent droughts in Laos, according to senior experts of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The Mekong River basin is also facing challenges from rising temperatures and increasing droughts.

For the first six months of 2019, rainfall in the Nam Ou basin, the biggest of the Mekong tributaries in Laos, decreased 41 percent compared to the same period in 2018 and continued to drop 29 percent from July to September 2019.

According to Lao meteorological data, the rainfall in the upper reaches of the Mekong River (Lancang River basin) in April, May, June and August 2019 was 51 percent, 71 percent, 39 percent, and 43 percent less respectively than the long-term average.

Agriculture experts said these conditions could lead to long-term difficulties for farmers sourcing water for crop production, especially rice which is the country’s main export as well as generating income for many communities.