LAOS, Feb 4 -- Waste run-off and trash from Chinese-owned banana farms are polluting a river in Laos, affecting over 500 families in the country's Oudomxay province that relies on the river water for daily use, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Tuesday.
"The Chinese use a lot of chemicals in their banana farms," a resident of Navang village in the province's Houn district told RFA. "Sometimes their pipes leak, and the waste flows out into the Beng river."
"In this village, at least 500 families are affected," he said, declining to be named.
The pollution has gone largely unaddressed for more than a year, a second villager told RFA, adding that villagers first reported the problem to local authorities at the end of 2018.
Materials used to wrap bananas before harvest have also formed part of the rubbish found in the river.
Concerns over chemical run-off from Chinese-owned banana plantations led to a January 2017 government order forbidding new banana concessions, but many farms continue to operate under contracts valid for several years.
Elsewhere, local officials have granted a number of firms land for new banana plantations in provinces that include Xayabury, Oudomxay, Borikhamxay, and Savannakhet.
Laos' state-run Vientiane Times newspaper had reported that bananas were expected to be Laos' top agricultural export in 2019, with the bulk of the crop being sent to China and Thailand.
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