Two Lao provinces earmarked for organic rice


Asia News Network (ANN)

Savannakhet and Champassak provinces may soon be producing about 40,000 tonnes of so-called 'clean', organic rice for both local markets and export.

Deputy Director of the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, Mr Viengsay Sipraphone, told Vientiane Times on Friday that present estimates suggest that about 40,000 tonnes of rice will be harvested in Savannakhet and Champassak, although the figure may differ in practice.

"Now, not only Khong district in Champassak province is growing organic rice, but Champassak, Phonthong and Sanasomboun districts as well," he said.

According to the Indochina Development Partnership Rice Mill in Savannakhet province, four rice mills in Savannakhet and Champassak provinces are able to produce rice of sufficient quality to meet the standard required by European Union (EU) and Chinese buyers.

An anonymous official in Savannakhet said that about eight countries from the EU as well as China are importing 'clean' rice from the province. Savannakhet is growing clean rice for export to the EU and China, he said.

Clean rice is different from organic rice because it uses a small amount of fertiliser, but of a type that meets international standards.

Many people in the EU and China like to eat rice grown in Laos because not much chemical fertiliser is used. 

China has approved the purchase of 20,000 tonnes of organic rice a year from Laos, according to Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

About 4,000 tonnes of sticky rice and nonglutinous rice has already been delivered to China, and this year the shipment was to be 8,000 tonnes. Now China has approved an increase from 8,000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes.

The government has chosen Savannakhet and Khammuan provinces to be the country's priority areas in a bid to increase crop yields for food security and commercial gain. 

The government is focusing on 10 provinces in its efforts to ensure food security and export potential, including Savannakhet and Khammuan.

The state has chosen them for pilot projects in agriculture, which will be extended to other provinces if these projects are successful. 

To increase crop yields for food security and commercial gain, the government is continuing to build more irrigation schemes using its own budget and low-interest loans. Higher yields are helping to contribute significantly to socio-economic development and poverty reduction.

More than 778,000 hectares of wet season rice and over 126,600 hectares of dry season rice are grown annually in Laos.

However, about 226,000 hectares of rice fields in flatland areas are totally dependent on rainfall because irrigation channels have not yet been built in those areas.

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A rice field under cultivation in Savannakhet province.

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