Vientiane Times, 17 Oct 2014
More Nam Theun 2 tailrace outlets will serve agricultural activities downstream after the government decided to develop tailrace outlets No’s 1 and 4 at the largest hydropower dam in the country.
The contract agreement on the development of the two tailrace outlets was signed between the Lao government and China-based Norinco International Cooperation Ltd in Vientiane yesterday.
Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Irrigation Mr Maykong Phonphommavong and the company’s President Mr Wang Yuetao signed the agreement.
Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad and related officials from Laos and China witnessed the signing.
Once the project is complete, the two outlets will have the capacity to irrigate a combined 7,600 ha of cultivation land in Gnommalath and Mahaxay districts.
The Lao government has financed the project through a bank loan from the Chinese government amounting to more than US$103 million, of which US$31.5 million is for the development of the first tailrace and US$71.6 million is for the fourth tailrace.
The development of irrigation facilities to channel the water from the tailrace outlets to cultivation land is a government priority and included in the Seventh National Socio-Economic Development Plan.
The move aims to ensure that farmers in the two districts have water for their farming activities in both seasons, which will also support the food security programme and other commercial production.
Nam Theun 2 tailrace outlets No’s1 and 4 are part of the second phase of the NT2 irrigation project and forms part of the Xebangfay River Drought and Flooding Prevention Project.
Norinco International Cooperation Ltd began the development of the first phase (third tailrace outlet) last November, which is now 75 percent complete.
Mr Wang said his company is aiming to complete the phase on time by the upcoming dry season whilst also ensuring quality.
Once the facility at the third outlet is complete it will be able to release water to 2,700 hectares of rice fields in nine villages as well as supply cash crop plantations and livestock operations in Ngommalath district.
Tailrace No 1, which shall cost US$31.5 million, has been 95 percent funded by a loan from the Chinese government, with the remainder coming from the Lao government’s joint fund.
Norinco International’s president said the central area of Laos is abundant with natural resources, especially water, and the people have a long tradition of agricultural activities which is very important for their livelihoods.
Therefore the irrigation system is very important for agricultural development and increasing production effectiveness and farmers’ incomes.
According to Khammuan provincial authorities, farmers throughout the province have planted 74,000 hectares of wet season rice this year.