GIEWS Country Brief: Lao People's Democratic Republic 23-December-2020

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• Aggregate 2020 cereal output forecast close to average level

• Rice exports forecast to expand in 2021

• COVID-19 pandemic and cereal production shortfalls in north heighten food insecurity for vulnerable households

Aggregate 2020 cereal output forecast close to average level

Harvesting of the 2020, mostly rainfed main (wet), paddy crop, accounting for about 90 percent of the annual output, is nearing completion. The May-September rainy (monsoon) season was characterized by an erratic temporal and spatial distribution. Precipitation amounts were average to above average over the main rice producing central and southern provinces, which combined account for about 80 percent of the main crop. By contrast, in minor producing northern provinces and in the central provinces of Vientiane and Xiangkhouang, the season was less favourable. The well below-average rains at planting time between May and July, hindered sowing operations and multiple replanting of crops was required in many areas. Rains improved from August onwards and brought some relief to soil moisture conditions, but they were too late and, in these areas, the harvested area and yields are estimated below the average levels. Farmers are currently planting the 2020 mostly irrigated secondary (dry) crop, for harvest next April, under generally favourable weather conditions. Above-average monsoon precipitation amounts in the southern and central provinces, where the bulk of the secondary crop is grown, contributed to replenishing the reservoirs, water of which will be used to irrigate these crops. The aggregate rice production is forecast at a near-average level of 3.8 million tonnes and about 23 percent above the 2019 output that had been severely affected by drought and floods.

Harvesting of the 2020 maize crop has recently completed and the output is estimated at 1 million tonnes, almost 20 percent below the five-year average. Poor rains from May to September affected crops at critical development stages over the main producing areas located in the north, resulting in below-average area planted and yields. The output is estimated to increase by 40 percent compared 2019, when a severe drought led to widespread wilting of crops.