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Xieng Khuang to celebrate popular rice variety with festival

Authorities in Xieng Khuang, one of Laos’ mountainous northern provinces, are preparing to celebrate the country’s most famous rice species, khao kai noi, and other local foods at a festival to be held this weekend.
This region boasts the largest fertile rice growing area in the country and is the main supplier of rice for both domestic and overseas consumption. Kai noi is a native rice species and is very popular because of its softness, good smell and flavour.
Paek district Governor Mr Sivilay Sengchaleun told Vientiane Times yesterday that this is the first year the district is hosting this event. In previous years, provincial authorities were responsible for organising the festival.
The fourth annual festival will be held at Phoukham Garden Agriculture Wet Market in Paek district, the provincial capital, from November 18 to 20.
The organising committee has invited farmers from four districts that are known for their extensive kai noi rice plantations, namely Paek, Phaxay, Phoukoud and Khoun districts.  
The festival will showcase khao kai noy and other local food products. There will also be a traditional baci ceremony for rice and livestock, which are the main forms of livelihood for farmers living there.
Mr Sivilay said there would also be a contest in which farmers will prepare cooked rice and meals, and visitors and a panel of judges will taste and rank them. There will be prizes for the winners.
The festival is a way of marketing and boosting farming production in Xieng Khuang.
The province has 19,600 hectares of rice fields in total with kai noi rice occupying 60 percent of that area.
This year, the province’s agriculture sector projects that the total harvest will be 83,000 tonnes, of which 52 tonnes will be kai noi rice.
One kilo of milled kai noi rice sells for 6,500 to 10,000 kip depending on quality. The price is 1,000 to 1,500 kip more than that paid for other varieties, officials said.
Alongside the state sector which will promote farming production, private businesses will help farmers to boost sales by entering into contracts with some enterprises that are purchasers of kai noi rice from growers, and will then sell the rice to companies such as the Lao Brewery Company.
Farmers in neighbouring Huaphan province also grow this crop, but it is only cultivated in two districts - Viengxay and Xamneua. This area is not as large as Xieng Khuang, an official from the Xieng Khuang Agriculture and Forestry Department said.


By Manichanh Pansivongxay
(Latest Update
November 15,

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