Vietnam still biggest market for Lao rice in Asean
Vietnam may itself be a major rice producer in the 10-member Asean group but the country also has a taste for the Lao grain.
In 2013, the value of rice exported from Laos to Vietnam reached over US$5.8 million and increased to US$15.5 million by last year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
While in 2015 Laos also exported rice to Cambodia worth around US$100,000 and another US$231,000 to Singapore in 2013 and 2014, last year no figure was available for these countries.
Since 2000 Laos has generated a surplus to its own demand of approximately one million tonnes per annum.
Laos is one of the rice growers in Asean with annual rice exports to Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries of over 300,000 tonnes per year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry reported.
In addition, Laos plans to produce about five million tonnes of rice by 2020 to ensure food security in the country.
However, the country is importing rice from Thailand for trading.
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 specialty varieties including black rice, kaynoi rice, and hom rice.
New and improved varieties such as thadokkham, thasano, phonngam and hom are also in demand across the region.
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.
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.
This year, Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd is targeting the export of 20,000 tonnes of rice to China.
In 2015, Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd was approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission to be as yet the sole exporter of rice from Laos to China with a quota of 8,000 tonnes.
Laos was unable to meet the deal and was only able to export some 4,000 tonnes of rice including sticky rice and non-glutinous rice.
The Chinese company also ordered 7,200 tonnes of rice last year but producers were unable to supply this amount.
In 2015 and 2016, the country could supply only 5,000 tonnes of rice to China.
This was because the standard required by the Chinese buyers was really high, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce reported.