Special Report - 2019 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 9 April 2020

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IMPORTANT: This report is based on information gathered in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 16 November to 5 December 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and thus the assessment does not take into consideration the impacts of the virus on the food security and agriculture sector of the country.

Prolonged drought conditions from May to December in the north and severe floods in August and September in the south and parts of the centre severely affected the 2019 main (wet) season paddy crop, the country’s primary food staple.

  • Production prospects for the 2019 secondary season irrigated paddy crop for harvest in April-May, are generally unfavourable reflecting a decline in both area harvested and yields as less irrigation water is available following the damages to the irrigation infrastructure caused by floods.

  • The 2019 aggregate paddy output is forecast at 3.4 million tonnes, about 10 percent below the five-year average and slightly above last year’s reduced level.

  • Prices of rice reached record highs in October 2019, but stabilized in November/December as newly harvested crops from the 2019 main season boosted availabilities in most markets.

  • Although widespread outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) were reported during the second half of 2019, no new cases have been reported since November 2019 and local authorities declared that the disease has been contained.

  • Rice import requirement in the 2020 marketing year (January/December) are forecast at a well above-average level of 260 000 tonnes and are expected to be fully covered by commercial imports.

  • The impacts of drought and flooding in 2019, combined with the already low baseline levels of household resilience among vulnerable communities, indicate that an estimated 67 800 people would be food insecure beginning from March 2020.

  • According to the household level food security assessments conducted as part of the Mission, food insecurity (as measured by the food consumption score) was most acute among the poor households and those dependent on upland rice cultivation.

  • In consideration of the extensive crop losses and damage to agricultural livelihoods, the households dependant on upland rice cultivation and those without access to dry season planting are likely to require food assistance to bridge the food gap until the next main season harvest in 2020, which begins in October.