VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Chinese authorities have resumed the import of cattle from Laos after a suspension because of a disease outbreak among livestock, a minister has said.
“Last month, we received an official letter from China notifying us that they (the Chinese side) would now resume imports of cattle (from Laos),” Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Phet Phomphiphak told the ongoing 3rd Ordinary Session of the National Assembly (NA) recently.
He was responding to a question raised by an Assembly member from Xayaboury province asking if Laos was able to resume the sale of livestock to China.
China has granted Laos a huge export quota. Under an agreement signed between the governments of the two countries, Laos has been granted a quota of 500,000 cattle for export to China.
Last year, Laos sold more than 2,000 head of cattle to China but the trade was put on hold after an outbreak of lumpy skin disease.
At least 11,000 cattle and buffalo in 126 villages of seven provinces reportedly contracted lumpy skin disease, with over 100 animals dying from the disease, an official report stated in June last year.
“This year, we have been able to treat the disease so we are now able to resume exports,” Dr Phet told Assembly members.
Countrywide, there are more than 3.5 million cattle and buffalo, but only about 100,000 animals are being raised on farms. There are 655 livestock farms, but by far the majority of animals are raised by individual households.
During the first six months of this year, some 18,000 buffalo and 41,500 cattle were exported, according to the minister.
The government had previously told the NA that Laos had been unable to fulfill the export quota granted by China. There is now huge potential for investment in cattle farming, given the large market available for livestock raised in Laos.
In light of this strong market potential, the government is encouraging businesses to set up cattle farms.
Officials say there are both opportunities and challenges for Lao cattle farmers in strengthening cattle and buffalo production to meet China’s needs in terms of quantity and quality.
Chinese buyers require animals that are four years old or less and that weigh at least 350kg. This means entrepreneurs must raise cattle on a large scale in compliance with the specified requirements. They also need to ensure that their farms are disease free so that livestock meet the quality and quantity requirements for export.