Laos, the fertile country between Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and China wants to combat poverty by increasing its agricultural productivity and by double cropping — getting two harvests annually, instead of one.

To reach this social and economic goal will require irrigation. The technology they’ve chosen was developed Austria by the world market leader of irrigation technology, the BAUER Group, which is headquartered in Voitsberg, Austria. BAUER will supply Rainstar hose reel irrigators as well as low-pressure irrigation systems of type Centerstar in the total amount of about 2 million Euros ($2.8 million). Financing will be provided by an OECD conforming "soft loan" credit in cooperation with the Austrian Control Bank.

BAUER's customer is the Ministry of Agriculture in Vientiane which has initiated a pilot project in cooperation with the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute NAFRI and with the National University of the People's Democratic Republic. This pilot project aims to provide comprehensive information about modern irrigation technology to students and to farmers.

"At the moment, the flood irrigation system is exclusively used in Laos. Unlike our modern mechanical irrigation systems with a water efficiency of up to 95%, the efficiency of traditional flood irrigation is only 50%. Despite a high yearly amount of 1800mm of precipitation, only one harvest is currently achieved in Laos because 85% of the rain falls in the months of May to October. By using BAUER irrigation machines, an enormous water savings will be reached and the agricultural production will be increased," explains Heimo Wiesinger sales and marketing manager of Röhren- und Pumpenwerk Bauer Gesellschaft m.b.H.

Wiesinger emphasizes the pioneering role of his company: "Beside Andritz, we are the second Austrian company to get involved in Laos and we are the first manufacturer of modern irrigation technology worldwide to engage in the People's Democratic Republic."

850 Hectares

In the course of this first pilot project, a total of 850 ha of agricultural crop land in nine different places shall be irrigated. The first delivery comprises 11 Rainstar hose reel irrigators as well as 18 units of Centerstar 168 pivot low-pressure irrigation systems.

Project manager Karl-Heinz Reinisch says, "By using our modern irrigation systems, our goal is to increase the quality and quantity of the agricultural production and to help combat poverty in the rural population. The application of irrigation machines – in the framework of the training policy of the leading agricultural schools of the Ministry as well as of the College of the National University of Lao PDR - will certainly influence positively the agricultural development in Lao."

The Bauer Group at a Glance Since its foundation in 1930, the BAUER Group - headquarters in Voitsberg, Styria, has been focused on irrigation and slurry management technology. Whilst initially producing wastewater and slurry pumps, the company first became an international player in the sector of irrigation technology in 1947 with the patent-protected Bauer lever lock coupling - named after Rudolf Bauer, the company founder. Today the company is developing rapidly in the biotechnology sector with wastewater treatment & biogas plants and it is focusing on three main sectors: irrigation management, waste management as well as energy management. BAUER is the Global market leader in irrigation technology: A total of more than 1,5 million hectares are globally irrigated. A major part of sales representing 50% of the total turnover is achieved in the sectors of slurry and environmental waste processing. The BAUER Group exports to 80 plus countries of the world. With ca. 500 employees, Bauer made an annual turnover of 145 million Euros in 2007/2008. With an export ratio over 93%, the main markets of the BAUER Group are Germany, France, the CEE countries, China, the USA, South-America and Australia. The BAUER Group currently consists of 20 companies worldwide.