Lao rice gets thumbs up from foreign buyers

rice-cropVIENTIANE: Lao rice from Savannakhet province in central part of the country has proven to be of high enough quality to sell on the international market, opening up export opportunities in the region and as far afield as Europe.

Lao World Public Company is working with farmers in the province to improve rice quality and plans to export Savannakhet rice to the European Union.

Provincial Industry and Commerce Department Director, Boundalay Khennavong, said Lao World had recently taken rice products to Thailand to sell under its logo as a test-run.

The results were impressive Boundalay said Thai buyers were happy with the quality of the Lao rice as it was clean and chemical-free.

Savannakhet farmers grow several different rice varieties but thasano and homsavanh are among the most popular.

Boundalay said those two varieties were of a high quality, opening doors for Laos to integrate its rice production with international markets and the Asean Economic Community.

The government is pushing for rice mill groups and other entrepreneurs, both domestic and international, to invest in agriculture and help farmers move from traditional to more modern rice farming methods.

Provincial Agriculture Section Head, Khamseng Sorphabmixay, said Savannakhet authorities were encouraging farmers to produce a rice surplus of about 300,000-400,000 tonnes per year for export, but most farmers still store their surplus at their house and sell it at local markets or border crossings.

Khamseng said the quality of most rice grown in the province was still below international standards.

The Industry and Commerce Department does not have figures on how much rice is exported to international markets. Boundalay said more company investment in rice production in the province would bring better technology and equipment to local farmers and increase the quality of rice produced.

The government has named Savannakhet as a model province for the production of quality rice for domestic sale and export, making the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department a potential leader in helping farmers raise their standards.

Laos is focused on producing the best possible agricultural products to meet international demand. Organic crops are among the potential areas the country plans to focus on to better integrate with the international market. Courtesy  ANN/Vientiane Times

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