The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MOAF) proposed a ban on imports of certain vegetables and other agricultural products to boost domestic production and combat inflation.
Dr. Phet Phomphiphak, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, spoke at a meeting of government officials and private sector representatives in Vientiane Capital last week, proposing an importation ban for certain vegetables like white cabbage, cauliflower, onions, garlic, tomatoes, large chilies, potatoes, carrots, and beetroot.
In addition to vegetables, Dr. Phett also suggested banning imports of some pork, beef, and fish products, except for premium meats like lamb and ostrich which are needed by certain restaurants and hotels. Seafood imports will continue to be allowed but strictly regulated with set quotas for specific time periods.
According to the Vientiane Times, Dr. Phet estimates that Lao farmers produce about 6.53 million metric tons of rice, vegetables, and other agricultural produce every year, which enables an average annual per capita consumption of 68.2 kilograms.
However, Dr. Phet revealed that most Lao farmers still use traditional farming methods and rely heavily on seasonal weather conditions, which can lead to unpredictable supplies of fresh produce. Many Lao farmers are also struggling to afford the high cost of imported fertilizer and animal feed, which has affected the quantity of produce they are able to put out.
Dr. Phet noted that high transportation costs and rising fuel prices have made it more expensive for farmers to transport their produce, and meet market demand.
Additionally, Lao farmers primarily produce and store food for their own families, with only a small portion to spare for sale in markets.
Hence, to address the country’s economic challenges, the government is urging farmers and businesses to increase food production for both domestic consumption and export as this will generate much-needed foreign currency and help reduce high exchange rates.
According to the Lao Trade Portal, the country’s imports and exports exceeded USD 1 billion in July, with exports valued at USD 429 million and imports at USD 595 million, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 166 million.