Laos weighs on export of 100,000 tons rice to Cuba

VIENTIANE: Laos government has assigned Phan Phet Agriculture Development Co, Ltd. to carry out a feasibility study on the export of 100,000 tons of rice a year to Cuba, according to the website of the Laos Ministry of Industry and Commerce on Friday (Jan 24).

The scheme was initiated by Laos Ministry of Industry and Commerce and other sectors when Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment visited the company in September 2019, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday.

Phan Phet is situated in Nonghiew village of Hadxaifong district, Lao capital Vientiane, and is a large agribusiness operator. Established in 2008, the firm currently manages about 1,000 hectares, about 50 percent of the farming area is in Hadxaifong district and the rest in other provinces.

The company's Chairman, Thongsavanh Meeboun, said the company did not grow merely rice. His firm encouraged farmers with potential and supported them by providing bio-fertilizers, seeds, advice on farming techniques and assistance with machinery.

The company last year planned to sell 10,000 tons of rice to China's Hong Kong and Taiwan after negotiating exports with international partners, yet with no confirmed export figure.

It will be a challenge for the company to produce rice for sale to Cuba. To achieve the target, it will need to study the adequate provision of funding, land, use of new technology, farming methods, seeds, machinery and disease management.

Laos' main export products to Cuba are clothes, while Cuba sells tobacco, sugar, white gold, coffee and mechanical parts to Laos.

According to Laos' rice export statistics over the past five years, the main markets are Vietnam, Thailand and Belgium.

From 2015-2019, Laos earned about US$70mil from the sale of rice to Vietnam, over US$40mil from Thailand, and more than US$11mil dollars from Belgium.

Laos sold rice to more than 30 countries in Asia and Europe.

In 2020, theLaos government is aiming to produce 4.7 million tons of rice, of which 2.5 million tons will supply domestic needs. Some 2.1 million tons will be used for local consumption while 400,000 tons will be stockpiled. Some 500,000-600,000 tons will be used for domestic processing and at least 1 million tons for domestic goods and export, said the report.

Those numbers indicate there is strong potential for Laos to sell 100,000 tons of rice to Cuba, which would equate to 10 percent of total rice exports. The scheme is part of efforts to develop the two countries' trade ties and enhance diplomatic relations, according to the report. - Xinhua/Asian News Network
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