PM advises Khong district to grow more cashews
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has encouraged officials in Champassak province's Khong district to help people to grow cashew nuts for supply to a local processing plant.
The processing plant is being built in the district in a bid to sell cashew products to overseas markets.
Mr Thongloun offered the advice during a visit to the province to open the Nongnokheane-Trapeang Kriel border crossing between Laos and Cambodia last week.
“If we give some parcels of land to the processing plant as a concession for planting cashew trees, this will continue for many years. So we ought to help local people grow the trees instead so they can sell the nuts to the plant,” he said.
G Farm Company from the Republic of Korea will spend US$6 million to build the processing plant and other infrastructure on an area of 150 hectares with an adjacent 47 hectare plot on which to grow the trees.
An additional US$3 million will be invested by the company to help farmers in the province to plant cashew trees and collect the nuts from the growers.
District Governor Mr Sanan Sithaphommachanh said the cashew nut processing plant will be finished this year and will become operational in May.
About 1,278 hectares of cashew trees are under cultivation in Khong district and growers harvest 875 tonnes of nuts a year.
The processing plant will work in cooperation with local farmers to expand their plantations from 1,278 hectares to 2,500 hectares, Mr Sanan added.
According to the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, there are long term plans to grow 10,000 hectares of cashew trees in Champassak. At present, there are about 3,500 hectares under cultivation throughout the province.
The current annual harvest is about 5,000 tonnes, most of which is sold to Vietnam for 8,000 kip per kilogramme.
Meanwhile, plans are also afoot to promote cashew nut cultivation in Saravan and Xekong provinces.
Cashews appear to have good potential in terms of income generation for local farmers. Vietnam produces large quantities of cashew nuts but is unable to keep pace with demand.
The first experimental cashew plantation in Laos took root in 2009 during a visit by the Vietnamese president, who presented cashew saplings to the Lao government. These were then planted in Champassak province.
Champassak shares borders with Thailand and Cambodia. Coffee grown in the province's Pakxong district is popular in cafes around the country as well as with export customers.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update January 17, 2017)