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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Agriculture Exports Yield USD 1.2 Billion in Revenue

This Week

Export of agricultural products, including USD 54 million worth of livestock, proved to be quite viable for the economy this year, earning the government an income of USD 1.2 billion.

China was Laos’ most lucrative export partner for agricultural products like cassava, bananas, and rubber, and in general, it was also the largest export market for Laos, said Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Sonexay Siphandone, at the National Assembly session last week.

According to him, increasing the country’s production capacity to export more goods and also reduce its dependency on imports would be a major aspect of recovering from the financial crisis currently plaguing the country.

There is now also an effort by the government to see that Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in industries like agriculture and processing have access to credit. To this effect, commercial banks, who provided 30 percent of their total credit to MSMEs until September are expected to increase the amount to 35 percent next year.

The government is also putting together a task force for the Bank of the Lao PDR to disseminate credit to support agricultural production and assist entrepreneurs who were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most farmers in the country still face challenges in receiving loans with low-interest rates and have to export most of their products, rather than meeting the needs of the domestic market.

The sharp increase in inflation and depreciation of kip has also resulted in mounting costs for necessities like fuel, transport, fertilizers, animal feed, pesticides, insecticides, etc. for the agricultural industry. To make ends meet, farmers have no choice but to export their goods to promising partners like China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Items that have been exported recently include beans, cassava flour, frozen beef, cashew nuts, mangos, durian, soybeans, bananas, and sugar. The government is focusing on increasing the breeding capacity for livestock like cows and pigs as that would help to produce bio-fertilizers and animal feed for the domestic market as well.

At the session, National Assembly members urged for the implementation of plans that would seek out entrepreneurs to give low-interest loans to MSMEs to boost their operations.

“In the past, the government has tried to actively promote such measures but large numbers of farmers could not access low-interest loans, there is no transparency in some projects, which have also not yet been extended to target areas,” they said.

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