Xayaboury banana farms ordered to cease operations
Five companies with banana plantations in Xayaboury province have been ordered to stop growing the fruit, but can still plant other replacement crops in compliance with regulations.
Four of the companies affected are Chinese backed with banana farms located around the villages of Phonthong, Namtuan, Naluam and Nalae, with one Lao farm located at Vangkham village, all in Phieng and Xayaboury districts, Xayaboury province.
Some companies are now being instructed to remove banana trees from the farms after authorities ordered a suspension of operations after inspections revealed they were not complying with regulations.
Head of Xayaboury Agricultural and Cooperative Promotion Sector, MsSengthongPhengdee told Vientiane Times yesterday local authorities have ordered the five target companies to stop planting banana trees and remove them on more than 600 hectares in Phieng and Xayaboury districts. This follows an executive order from the Prime Minister's Office issued at the end of last year.
“We hope that the removal of banana trees will be completed by May this year,” she said. However, to be fair to the companies, local authorities have suggested other options for farmers.
“They can plant other crops and fruits according to their location, and this will started after they have completed banana tree removal from their farms,” MsSengthong said. More importantly, all farmers should not be using too many dangerous chemical substances, and instead be using organic fertiliser as approved by agriculture officials.
Chinese-run banana farms are not only found in the northern provinces, there are also hundred of hectares in Vientiane province and the capital.
The northern provinces of Bokeo, LuangPrabang, Oudomxay and Phongsaly mainly grow bananas for export to China, but Oudomxay and LuangNamtha provinces are the major centres for banana plantations in Laos.
Bokeo authorities also plan to suspend the operations of 18 companies who have invested in banana plantations. The cultivation of about 6,000 hectares of banana trees by 23 companies in Oudomxay province will also be suspended.
According to investment statistics, Chinese companies have invested in more than 764 projects in Laos at a cost of more than US$7 billion in areas such as mineral products, agriculture, electricity, artefacts, and tourism. Of these projects, 552 were funded by Chinese companies, while Laos and China jointly invested in 212 projects. China is Laos' top source of foreign investment. The total value of imports and exports from Laos to China exceeded US$1.5 billion over the last nine months of 2015-16. Of this figure, the export value totalled US$950 million, while imports were valued at US$570 million.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 16, 2017)