While the expansion of banana farms from the north to other parts of the country continues, their management by the state is lax.
National Assembly (NA) members at the ongoing debate session shared this view with the NA’s Standing Committee regarding the impact of banana farms on the environment and local populations due to the use of hazardous chemicals.
The northern provinces of Bokeo, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Phongsaly mainly grow bananas for export to China, with most investors in these operations being Chinese.
NA member for Attapeu province, Mr. Maniso Xamounty, suggested there were now hundreds of hectares of bananas growing in Vientiane province and the capital.
In Oudomxay province, where he was assigned to work by the NA recently, he noted that many people had been taken advantage of by sweet smelling’ banana plantation investors, he said.
Investors sometimes did not pay land concession fees to owners on time and labourers were also employed under poor conditions.
Furthermore, investors didn’t always pay taxes to the government because they contracted directly with local people without permits from the relevant authorities.
There are 23 companies growing bananas in Oudomxay, but three have been suspended.
Of the remaining 20, 10 companies have registered their investment in line with the regulations while the other 10 companies have not registered even though they are already operational. The authorities have yet to advise them on the regulations and ensure they carry out their business legally.
Mr. Maniso told the Standing Committee he hoped the government would enforce the regulations as these were clearly explained in Article 17 of the Law on Investment.
He also suggested that the NA reexamine projects that are thought to be causing harm to the environment and local populations, in line with Article 76.
NA member for Luang Namtha province, Mr. Kongphet Keobuapha, commented that some provinces were using too many insecticides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers, but said this matter did not feature in reports submitted to the Assembly.
He added that some people became ill and some had allegedly died after spraying pesticide on farms, but did not say where this had occurred.
According to Vientiane officials, in September a group of five men and women working on a banana farm in Pakngum district were taken to hospital after feeling intoxicated, nauseous and developing headaches, because of the misuse of pesticides.
Source: Vientiane Times