China has slapped inspection measures upon banana exports from Laos, hindering what was a booming trade.
While Laos is still the second largest exporter of bananas to China, a protocol has been signed between Laos and China determining inspection and quarantine measures for bananas exported by Laos. Now, only bananas that meet strict criteria will be given the green light for export to China.
This is the first time export standards have been initiated between the two countries.
According to the protocol, bananas exported to China from Laos must meet the following requirements:
– The harvest time must be ten to eleven weeks after flowering.
– Ripe bananas will not be permitted entry into China.
– Bananas found with dangerous contaminants will be rejected.
– Banana exports shall not include the rhizome, leaves, or soil during transportation.
– Delivery must be made to the designated location according to Chinese regulations.
According to the Lao Ministry of Agrculture and Forestry, banana exports have become the largest source of Laos’ foreign exchange. In 2014 Laos exported 43,000 tons of bananas to China, amounting to US$ 31 million. By 2016, exports reached 250,000 tons and a value of US$ 183 million.
The large majority of banana farms in Laos are owned by Chinese investors, and questions were quickly raised about the use of chemicals in 2016, after workers experienced ill health and water pollution led to the death of fish near plantations.
In 2017, exports diminished after the government of Laos enacted strict regulations against polluting banana farms, and halted the development of large plantations. As a result, many farms were forced to shut down.
Faced with strict environmental protection regulations, the future of the banana industry in Laos is uncertain.
Source: Produce Report