Lao officials acknowledge that a large number of their population in remote areas face rice shortages for up to 6 months a year, although Laos is now able to produce more rice than is needed to meet its domestic demand, approximately 2.2 million tons annually.
The problems are a combination of inclement weather that prevents remote communities from growing enough rice for their own consumption, and inaccessible roads that prevent rice shipments to reach the people.
Meanwhile, Japan has donated 320 million yen-worth of rice to Laos to help meet its emergency needs for 2007. For the past few years, Laos has received some 7,510 tons of rice aid from Japan.
Laos has set 2010 as the targeted year for poverty reduction for 85% of its population. Currently, 29% of its 6 million people still live under the poverty line, with less than $1 a day.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details.