Vientiane Times, January 03, 2012
A feasibility and design study of an irrigation project at the proposed fifth watergate downstream from the Nam Theun II hydro plant in Khammuan province is part of plans to boost dry season rice yields. An agreement on the study was signed in the province last week between the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department Deputy Director, Mr Viengkham Xayaphone, and Xasy Group Co., Ltd. President and Manager, Mr Phouthone Xasy.
Provincial Deputy Governor Mr Oday Soudaphone, with representatives from the department of Agriculture and Forestry and the company, attended the signing ceremony. The project is expected to be finished by the end of June according to the agreement.
The study will be financed by the company but the government will repay the money after the project is completed. The irrigation scheme will supply water to about 720 hectares of farmland in Mahaxay district for growing dry and wet season rice, said the provincial Irrigation Section Head, Mr Chomphet Chanepheng.
The study will look at ways to channel water from the gate directly to rice fields. Direct gravity fed irrigation will save money for farmers because electrical pumps will not be required. The only exceptions are for fields which are on higher ground than the irrigation system. “The province is planning to build four watergates downstream from the dam, which will supply water to farmers’ rice fields, so they can grow rice in both the wet and dry seasons for their own consumption and for export,” Mr Chomphet said.
The province has completed a study of the first gate, which will supply water to 3,500 hectares of farmland in Nhommalath district. There is already an agreement with a Chinese construction company to fund the third gate which will supply water to an additional 2,700 hectares within the district.
Construction of the second planned gate downstream from the dam will not go ahead because the costs outweigh the benefit to farmers, as it would have supplied water only to a small area of land.
A fourth gate is now under study and is expected to supply water to around 3,800 hectares of arable land in Nhommalath and Mahaxay districts. These irrigation projects downstream from the Nam Theun II dam will supply water to more than 10,000 hectares of rice fields in Nhommalath and Mahaxay districts, half of which will not require the use of pumps.