A large Chinese company plans to grow organic rice in Laos for export to markets in China and Europe.
Chief Executive Officer of SEIF Holdings Frederick Tan and his delegation met with Deputy Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham in Vientiane on Friday, where the company detailed its plans to invest between US$300 million to US$1billion in growing rice in Laos.
He informed Dr Phouangparisak the strategy of the venture with the company initially targeting Vientiane and then the two provinces of Borikhamxay and Champassak for its operations.
“Laos is suitable and it's very good for growing organic rice crops as the soil is not contaminated and the air is clean,” Tan told Deputy Minister Dr Phouangparisak.
The hope is it will boost local farmers' incomes selling their organic rice to the company and have the potential to reduce poverty levels in the province.
According to the company, it requires 40,000 hectares of land to grow organic rice. Indeed, the Chinese firm needs more than that if Laos can offer it.
The initial slated location for the organic rice production is Vientiane and officials in the capital have told the company they have thousands of hectares of land suitable for their needs.
The areas targeted for the company to plant rice are around the Nam Houn and Nam Xung reservoirs.
The company plans to grow between 5,000 to 7,000 hectares of organic rice at first in Vientiane and then plans to find suitable land in Borikhamxay and Champassak provinces.
The firm is also targeting the planting of agar wood in Borikhamxay province, while in Champassak province it plans to have banana, dragon fruit and agar plantations.
Dr Phouangparisak told the investors he approves and supports their proposal for planting organic rice and other crops but he explained to the company they must follow process regarding documentation to ensure a smooth project.
“You have to operate your organic food investment step by step, in a methodical way to ensure its success,” he said.
Organic produce is gaining increasing popularity with consumers all around the world as they feel they don't have to worry about the dangers of chemicals and know that what they are eating is entirely natural.