Ministry plans to boost rice exports
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry this year expects to export about 400,000 tonnes of rice and hopes the figure will climb to one million tonnes by 2020.
The focus will be on black rice, kaynoi rice, and hom rice, while new improved varieties such as thadokkham , thasano , phonngam and hom are also in demand, the ministry reported at its annual meeting in Vientiane last month.
The ministry plans to increase yields so that white rice accounts for about 30 percent of the total rice crop, and is certified with the Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) standard for export.
Many farmers and entrepreneurs are now growing rice on a commercial basis in order to improve quality in line with internationally accepted standards.
Many businesses have exported their rice products to foreign countries such as China, Vietnam, Mongolia and various European countries.
Last year, 21,000 tonnes of polished rice and about 52,000 tonnes of paddy rice was exported while about 248,000 tonnes of paddy rice was sold in border trading, with an average total of about 300,000 tonnes.
Last year, the ministry encouraged farmers to grow 4.2 million tonnes of rice, an increase of 2 percent compared to 2015. The target for this year's crop is 4.3 million tonnes.
About 2.1 million tonnes of rice will be supplied for consumption, 0.4 million tonnes will allocated to a stockpile, 500,000-600,000 tonnes will be processed, and 100,000 tonnes will be used as seeds.
Rice is the main commercial crop for domestic market supply and export, along with coffee, maize, tea, sugarcane, cassava, Job's tear, and beans.
This year, the ministry will encourage farmers to produce commercial crops for domestic supply and export, with targets of 126,200 tonnes of coffee, 1.3 million tonnes of maize, 2.43 million tonnes of sugarcane, 1.55 million tonnes of cassava, and 94,300 tonnes of beans.
The ministry expects that the agriculture and forestry sector will grow by an annual average of 3.1-3.4 percent between now and 2020, and account for about 17 percent of GDP.
To achieve this target, the ministry is basing its work on three pillars and four priority plans. The first pillar is agriculture, the second is forestry, and the third is rural development and poverty eradication.
Of the four priority plans, the first is to produce adequate foodstuff in a manner that is sustainable and ensures good nutrition, the second is to grow crops on a commercial basis with a focus on quantity, quality and cleanliness, the third is sustainable forest and forest resource management, and the fourth plan is to work towards rural development and poverty eradication.