Lao rice exports to China still facing challenges, official says


This means Lao producers will have to try a lot harder to produce high quality rice products, depending on the deals made between the exporter and producer.

"We [the Ministry of Industry and Commerce] will keep encouraging active cooperation between the various government sectors, the owners of rice mills and rice farmers, urging them to meet the standards demanded by the Chinese market," the ministry's Trade Promotion Director General Mr Somvang Ninthavong told Vientiane Times yesterday.

In 2015, Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd. was approved by China's National Development and Reform Commission to be the sole exporter of rice to China with a quota of 8,000 tonnes but Laos was unable to meet the deal and was able to export only 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, we could supply only 5,000 tonnes of rice to China; this was because the standard required by the Chinese buyers was really high," Mr Somvang said.

This year, Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd. is targeting the export of 20,000 tonnes of rice to China and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, notably the Trade Promotion Department, is now gearing up to cooperate with other ministries to ensure the quality of the rice is adequate.

"To meet the export target, several challenges have to be solved, especially in terms of cultivation methods, the milling process, and packaging. The Chinese buyers must be satisfied when they buy our products," Mr Somvang said.

The Trade Promotion Department recently met with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, mill owners and farmers to seek solutions to the quality issue.

According to Mr Somvang, seven mills are targeted for the processing of rice for export to China but they will be inspected and technically certified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Next month, the Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd. and the Lao government will begin the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding for rice trade cooperation under this year's agreement for 20,000 tonnes of rice, he said.

Since 2000, Laos has exported over 300,000 tonnes of rice a year to Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries.

Laos also plans to produce about 5 million tonnes of rice by 2020 to ensure food security in the country.

Last fiscal year, Laos' rice production reached 4.12 million tonnes and is predicted to increase to 4.35 million tonnes this year.

More than 778,000 hectares of wet season rice and over 126,600 hectares of dry season rice are grown annually in Laos. However, about 226,000 hectares of rice fields in flatland areas are totally dependent on rainfall because irrigation channels have not yet been built in those areas.


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