The Laotian provinces of Savannakhet and Champassak may soon be producing significant quantities of “clean” rice for local markets and export.
This is grain that similar to organic rice but is produced using a small amount of fertiliser of a type that meets international standards.
According to the Indochina Development Partnership Rice Mill in Savannakhet province, four rice mills in that province and in Champassak are able to produce rice of sufficient quality to meet the standards required by European Union and Chinese buyers.
An official in Savannakhet said about eight EU countries as well as China were importing “clean” rice from the province.
Many people in the EU and China like to eat rice grown in Laos because not much chemical fertiliser is used.
China has approved the purchase of 20,000 tonnes of organic rice a year from Laos, according to Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
About 4,000 tonnes of sticky rice and non-glutinous rice has already been delivered to China, and this year the shipment was to be 8,000 tonnes. Now China has approved increasing that amount to 20,000 tonnes.
The Laotian government has chosen Savannakhet and Khammuan provinces to be the country’s priority areas for increasing crop yields for food security and commercial gain. They are among 10 provinces the government is focusing on in its efforts to ensure food security and export potential.
The government has chosen them for pilot projects in agriculture, which will be extended to other provinces if the projects are successful.
The government is continuing to build more irrigation schemes using its own budget and low-interest loans. Higher yields are helping to contribute significantly to socio-economic development and poverty reduction, it says.
More than 778,000 hectares of wet-season rice and more than 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.