Lao organic tea exports aim for regional markets

Laos' organic tea industry has the potential to increase exports to regional markets as its quality is being accepted in a number of countries, according to tea business expert.

An organic tea trader in Pakxong, Mr Thongvanh told Vientiane Times via interview that tea plantings in his garden have grown steadily in recent times, witnessing tea business growth since 2014.

His sales of tea have increased from 450 kg to 500 kg per month, which is mostly exported to Cambodia while some is sold to tea companies in the district, packaged for export to Thai markets as well as for sale domestically.

Mr Sengthong said tea in Pakxong is widely accepted in the region as the tea plants grow well in the cool mountain temperatures.

For example, there are increasing orders from main tea factories each month, which is a good sign that Lao organic tea can drive export growth to neighbouring countries.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce reported that in the first six months of 2016 Lao exports of tea to Cambodia were valued at 159 million kip while Thailand was the main market at 1.6 billion kip.

Lao tea is also exported to the nine countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Singapore, Netherlands, Belgium and China.

A tea businessman in Laos' northern provinces, Mr Bounchan commented that Lao authorities are continuing to encourage local farmers in the provinces of Phongsaly, Oudomxay, Xayaboury, and Pakxong district, Champassak province to increase their tea growing efforts.

Laos has wild tea trees aging from 400 to more than 1,000 years old, whose leaves fetch considerably high prices on international markets.

�The country also has set a clear plan to continue promoting tea plating and production through cooperation with Chinese investors,� he said.

For example, Phongsaly province has the capacity to process up to 5,000 tonnes of tea per year.

Tea is now being grown on around 2,650 hectares of land; it is already distributed both domestically and on international markets.

Oudomxay province has received investment from a Chinese business, which is ready to process good quality tea for export to China and domestic markets.

A tea plant has also been built in Pakbaeng district; it will have the capacity to process up to 8,000 tonnes of tea per year, adding fuel to the province's tea production potential.

vientiane times

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