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Chinese firm to study development potential of Bolaven Plateau

The government has authorised a Chinese firm to carry out a feasibility study of the coffee-rich Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos, with a view to turning it into the country’s top agri-business and agri-tourism destination.
Deputy Governor of Champassak province Mr Buasone Vongsongkhone said a Memorandum of Understanding was signed recently by the Chinese company and Lao authorities.
“If the feasibility study results are positive, this could be another mega project in our province which could boost economic growth and create jobs for our people,” he said.
Under the MOU, the Chinese company will conduct a feasibility study of an airport and township on the Bolaven Plateau, largely for the purposes of tourism.   

 Mr Buasone said the Chinese firm also intended to grow organic crops for export to China. It was unclear how much funding would be pumped into the project, pending the outcome of the project survey and design.
The Bolaven Plateau will be developed under a master plan that runs until 2030, which was drafted by the National Economic Research Institute to ensure sustainable development of the area.
The master plan incorporates three districts on the plateau - Pakxong in Champassak province, Thataeng in Xekong province, and Lao-ngam in Saravan province, covering an area of 497,199 hectares.
The master plan would see the plateau become a modern economic region with productive use of the area’s fertile land, ensuring that almost 200,000 people living on the plateau would escape poverty.
The government’s monthly meeting in February this year, chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, debated the development vision for the Bolaven Plateau until 2030.
Cabinet members recommended that the drafting committee carry out further studies regarding the location and define development activities based on the potential of the plateau.   
The government noted that the Bolaven Plateau was a catchment area that was the source of a number of rivers and waterfalls. Surrounding the plateau are several National Protected Areas, remote hill tribes and dense jungle.
Formed by an ancient volcano that erupted millions of years ago, the Bolaven Plateau has abundant and productive soil along with a relatively cooler climate that is perfect for growing organic crops and aromatic coffee.
The plateau ranges from 1,000 to 1,350 metres in elevation. A US media channel (CNN) described the Bolaven as one of the world’s best coffee-growing regions.
“It[Bolaven]’s earned a burgeoning reputation not only for the quality of the coffee beans the area produces, but also for its stunning scenery and vibrant ethnic cultures -- making the plateau one of the best road trip destinations in Southeast Asia,” CNN said.

Over 600,000 tourists visited Champassak in 2016, of which about 50 percent visited the plateau, according to the province’s Department of Information, Culture and Tourism.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update April 10, 2018


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