China to buy 20,000 tonnes of organic rice from Laos
China has approved the purchase of 20,000 tonnes of organic rice a year from Laos, according to Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
Mr Thongloun said in talks with Khong district authorities in Champassak province last week that Chinese premier Li Keqiang had agreed to the deal.
A rice grower in Savannakhet province works in his field. -(File photo)
The Chinese prime minister told Mr Thongloun that 20,000 tonnes of rice was quite a small quantity for China. But Lao officials and farmers will have to work hard to produce this amount of organic rice for shipment.
“Laos will need to deliver 20,000 tonnes of genuine organic rice to China. The shipment must not contain nonorganic rice,” Mr Thongloun said.
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 rice is being grown in Savannakhet province and Khong district, Champassak province.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in October last year, only the IDP Rice Mill in Savannakhet province was able to produce rice of sufficient quality to meet the standard required by Chinese buyers.
There are many rice mills in Laos but they are inefficient and the finished product is of low quality. Based on a nationwide survey, only the IDP Rice Mill has been able to meet Chinese standards.
The Xuanye Company of China received an import quota from the Chinese government to buy rice from Laos.
The rice grown in Laos is favoured because of its pure white grains, softness and pleasant aroma.
Although the rice grown by Lao farmers is of good quality, rice mills must maintain high standards if they hope to export large amounts of rice to China. Mills that use low quality methods will need to improve their operations and the machinery they use.
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.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update January 16, 2017)