Vientiane Times, May 29, 2012
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has awarded a land concession to a Chinese agricultural investor, Henan Tianguan Enterprise Co Ltd, to grow cassava for export to China and Thailand. The cassava will be cultivated on an area of more than 1,000 hectares in Phalanxay district, Savannakhet province. The state land concession agreement was signed in Vientiane on Friday between the ministry and Henan Tianguan Enterprise Co Ltd, in the presence of authorities from the ministries of Planning and Investment and Agriculture and Forestry. A ministry official said the government had agreed to the concession, which would run for 20 years. Company Manager Mr Zeng Xianli said “We are spending about 40 billion kip (US$5 million) on the project. We plan to plant cassava on an area of 1,005 hectares in fiscal year 2013-14.” The company also plans to encourage local people to grow cassava on an area of 550 hectares in fiscal year 2014-15. “We expect to employ over 200 people,” Mr Zeng said.
The cassava crop will be sliced and sun dried prior to export. “In the future we also plan to build a plant to process the cassava,” Mr Zeng added. Cassava cultivation is booming in Laos amid increasing demand both locally and in overseas markets each year. Tapioca powder producers are busy expanding both production facilities and the land under cultivation. The major tapioca producers in Laos are the Lao Indochina Group Public Company Tapioca Factory in Paknum district, Vientiane, and the KPN Tapioca Factory in Champassak province. Two other factories are located in Lau-ngam district in Saravan province and Meun district in Vientiane province. The Lao Indochina Group reported recently that cassava farming had increased by 76 percent this year. The Group now sources the crop from 13,500 hectares in 524 villages, providing employment for 7,840 families. Last year the cassava processed by the Group was grown on 7,689 hectares, providing employment opportunities for over 2,850 families in 171 villages.