VIENTIANE — Lao officials said the country’s mills need to improve rice quality as to meet the needs for exports to China, Lao daily Vientiane Times reported Monday.
Only a mill named IDP Rice Mill in Savannakhet province of central Laos is able to produce rice of sufficient quality to meet the standard required by Chinese buyers, said the report.
There are many rice mills around the country but they are inefficient and the finished product is of low quality. Based on a nationwide survey, only the IDP Rice Mill in Savannakhet has been able to meet Chinese standards.
Lao Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Bounkhouang Khambounheuang, told to reporters on last Friday that Laos began selling rice to China last year. So far, about 3,700 tons of sticky rice and nonglutinous rice have been shipped.
“The Xuanye Company of China received an import quota from the Chinese government to buy rice from Laos,” he said. Last year Xuanye was authorized by the Chinese government to import 8,000 tons of rice from Laos and this year has ordered 7,200 tons.
An official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said the rice grown in Laos had pure white grains, was soft and had a pleasant aroma.
Although the rice grown by Lao farmers is of good quality, rice mills must maintain high standards if they hope to export rice to China. Mills that use low quality methods will need to improve their operations and the machinery they use.
This year Lao rice went on display for the first time at the annual China-Asean Expo. The 13th Expo was staged from September 11-14 at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Centre, alongside the 13th China-Asean Business and Investment Summit in Nanning, Quangxi, China.
Lao government has earmarked 10 provinces for the cultivation of rice for export and to ensure food security.
To increase crop yields for food security and commercial gain, 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, according to the report.
More than 778,000 hectares of wet season rice and over 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.