Laos plans to step up rice exports to China next year after the quality of rice sold to the country so far was found to be satisfactory by Chinese buyers, the state-run press Vientiane Times reported.
Laos began selling rice to China in 2015. It is expected that export figure of about 4,200 tons of sticky rice and purple rice in 2016 will rise to over 8,000 tons in 2017, as demand from Chinese markets increases, according to the Lao Department of Agriculture.
In March 2015, Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd was approved by China's National Development and Reform Commission to become sole exporter of Lao rice to China with quota of 8,000 tons.
The main rice products come from the central Savannakhet province under the 2 3 Investment Promotion Scheme. Under this scheme, farmers contribute their land and labor, while the company provides funding, technical assistance and a market.
Major challenges for Lao farmers are the comparatively high cost of rice products and transportation compared to those of neighboring countries, Lao agriculture officials was quoted as saying.
The opening of this market for Lao rice has elevated the role of the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in promoting Lao rice as a model product that meets international standards.
The ministry is also implementing a pilot project to grow rice as a qualified product for export to China under the four cooperation principles of water, seeds, fertilizer and season.
The launch of the Lao organic rice market in China is considered as a significant opportunity for Lao rice to access one of the world's biggest markets, which will guarantee a market for Lao farmers and help to eradicate poverty in Laos, said the Vientiane Times on Friday.
Since 2000, Laos has exported over 300,000 tons of rice annually to Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries.
Laos plans to produce about 5 million tons of rice by 2020 to ensure food security in the country. This fiscal year, the rice production reached 4.12 million tons and is predicted to increase to 4.35 million tons next year.