Rice from S. Korea boosts emergency reserves during economic woes: Laos

A farmer harvests rice by a paddy field outside Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

VIENTIANE, Jun 27, 2021, Vientiane Times/ANN. South Korea has donated 1, 320 metric tonnes of polished rice worth about US$1.26 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) in Vientiane to boost emergency response, The Star reported.

WFP will use part of this donation as a central rice reserve in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

In the event of unforeseeable disasters, rice allocations will be managed by WFP according to requests for assistance from the government, to ensure they benefit people who most need support.

Another part of the donation will be used in WFP’s other food security programmes, for example to create community rice reserves in areas that are frequently hit by natural disasters.

These reserves will act as stocks in the event of emergencies, but also as safety nets during food shortages in the lean season and allow for early response from communities themselves.

Villagers can repay the borrowed amount with an agreed interest rate once their harvest is collected.

Ambassador of South Korea to Laos, Moohong Im, and Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Padeumphone Sonthany, confirmed the arrival of the shipment of 74 containers carrying 33, 000 sacks each filled with 40kg of rice from Korea at the WFP warehouse.

Ambassador Moohong said climate change and natural disasters such as repeated flooding have been threatening food security and, furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused severe social and economic problems and affected people’s daily lives. There is no doubt that these hardships are much harsher for vulnerable people.

“I believe that with the Lao government’s leadership and the WFP’s expertise, the rice donated today will be promptly delivered to people in need, such as those who are in difficulties due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic as well as the recent flood in Xayaboury, ” the ambassador said.

Korea’s assistance is a part of efforts to alleviate damage and contribute to achieving the ‘zero hunger’ target of the Sustainable Development Goals.

South Korea has donated 50, 000 tons of rice every year since 2018 in collaboration with the WFP and this year added two more recipient countries including Laos.

“The government of Korea is happy to extend support to the government of Laos and its people to ensure that everyone has enough to eat even in times of emergency, ” Ambassador Moohong said.

Padeumphone said, “We are thankful that with this support, we will be able to react more quickly than before.” About 55, 000 people numbers depending on the type and scale of the disaster event will benefit from Korea’s donation and WFP’s expertise.

WFP Country Director and Representative, Jan Delbaere said this rice was kindly donated by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

He stated that climate change impacts are already affecting vulnerable communities in Laos with changing temperatures, increased uncertainty and increased magnitude and frequency of extreme events.

“Indeed, we are again experiencing communities displaced by flooding in Xayaboury. It is clear that this kind of support is needed, ” he added. – Vientiane Times/ANN

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