Irrigation systems will be able to supply water to about 180,000 hectares of crops this dry season, even though some systems are in need of repair. About 120,000 hectares of the irrigated land will be given over to rice, while other crops will be cultivated on the remainder, according to the Irrigation Department. Department officials are concerned that the prolonged dry spell could lead to a shortage of water in some irrigation reservoirs but are confident that many pumping stations will continue to function. Last dry season, irrigation systems were able to deliver water to about 113,000 hectares of rice although farmers planted rice on only about 99,000 hectares or 88 percent of the area targeted, and 659 hectares of rice was damaged, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said. To ensure that farmers grow more rice this dry season and to ensure a good quality crop, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Lien Thikeo has instructed the relevant sectors in Vientiane and all provinces, especially those responsible for agriculture and forestry and rural development and poverty eradication, to actively encourage farmers to harvest their wet season rice and prepare to plant dry season crops.