VIENTIANE - Laos is preparing to certify its home-grown coffee with geographical indication (GI) and as a member of the International Coffee Organisation.
It is hoped that this will help maintain the value of Laotian coffee, after progressive price decreases over the past two years.
The Lao Coffee Association is consulting with government and private entities about the duties and responsibilities involved in negotiating and coordinating this work.
Association official Sivilay Xayaseng said these two steps would boost the value of Laotian coffee products on the world market.
The price of Arabica coffee has fallen to about US$2,700 a tonne at present, while Robusta sells for just over $1,500 a tonne, he said.
Because of a slump in coffee prices on the world market, the sale price of Laotian coffee has been declining since 2014.
The price of Arabica coffee in 2012 was about $5,200 per tonne, while Robusta sold for $2,200 per tonne.
In 2013, Laos exported 30,000 tonnes of coffee valued at $72 million. In 2014 total coffee exports dropped to 26,000 tonnes valued at $60 million. Last year exports fell further to 23,000 tonnes valued at $50 million, the Lao Coffee Association reported.
Most of the Laotian coffee crop is exported to Taiwan, Italy, Japan, Spain, Poland, Germany, the United States, France, Belgium, Sweden, Thailand and Vietnam.
Coffee is one of Laos’ top agricultural income earners.
Despite the fall in prices, the number of coffee growers remains stable. The country currently farms 75,000 hectares of coffee, mostly on the Bolaven Plateau in Champassak, Xekong and Saravan provinces.
Coffee production in Laos is strong compared with other countries, especially in Asean. Laos is the third-largest coffee producer in Southeast Asia, after Vietnam and Indonesia.
Indonesia is the third-largest coffee producer and exporter in the world, according to an Asean briefing.
Despite Thailand’s great geographical location for coffee cultivation, production of coffee in the Kingdom is low compared with Vietnam and Indonesia.
The quality of Laotian coffee products has improved because of the cooperation and support of government organisations and the private sector. Only a few coffee producers in Laos have received organic certification so far, while many others support the concept, Sivilay said.