Nov 11, 2006
Rice economics as explained to me yesterday.
You can see from the photo that rice harvest is still going on from the first crop.
The way I understood it the family of six adults who owns this land eats about 100 kilos of sticky rice per month. One lai, the standard measure of land here, can produce about 1500 kilos per crop, and a lai is about the amount of land one man can work per year.
Folks often remark about how “sabai” the Lao people are. If one man can easily feed six, a husband and wife working together can easily grow the amount needed for one year in their spare time leaving lots of extra time for fishing, weaving, visiting friends or doing whatever. Before TV the whatever part led to big families.
Bear in mind the land in this photo is very good land in the Mekong valley. Many people here don’t own land. They’ve migrated in from the outlying provinces to make their fortunes in the “big city” and don’t even own the small room they rent.
Wages are steadily being pushed upwards as is the cost of everything except the US dollar which seems to have slipped slightly below the 10K mark. Construction labour now seems to be around $3 per day, double that of four years ago. The greens that used to cost 500 kip per bunch are now 3 for 2000. It seems as if the government has loosened the controls on the price of motorcycles and they are back around $500 even for the better Korean ones.
More later when I know more of what I’m talking about.