Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Demand for organic produce outstripping supply

Vientiane Times, 29 April, 2013

Authorities are encouraging vegetable growers in Vientiane to grow more organic produce for sale at the twice-weekly market on the That Luang esplanade, to ensure consumers eat healthily. These days many people in Vientiane are recognising the benefits of organic food. Eating vegetables that have been organically grown is better for your health because they are free from potentially harmful chemicals.

“But farmers cannot keep up with demand because there is no funding to expand vegetable beds further,” the Head of the Organic Vegetable Group in Nontae village in Xaythany district, Mr Khamphou Phanthaboun, told Vientiane Times on Friday.The organic market at That Luang takes place every Wednesday and Saturday. It starts in the early morning at 4am and has normally sold out by 9 or 10am.

“We want to borrow money from the Agriculture Promotion Bank to expand the area for planting cash crops, but the bank requires farmers to repay the full amount borrowed within six months.” It’s not possible for growers to repay the money so quickly because in six months they won’t have received any income from their crops.

There is no farming family in Nontae village that will borrow money from the Agriculture Promotion Bank under these terms, vegetable grower Mr Khamphou added. “If we borrow from the bank to expand our plots to meet the growing demand for organic vegetables, we will soon become defaulting debtors, so we won’t do it.” “We can borrow money from the bank if it allows growers to repay with interest in about two or three years,” he said.

Currently, 100 families are growing vegetables in Nontae village with 13 of them farming organically, on an area of about one or two hectares each. The village’s Organic Vegetable Group supplies about 150 kilogrammes of organic produce to the market at That Luang each Wednesday and Saturday.

In Vientiane there is organic farming in Xaythany, Xaysettha, Naxaithong, Pakngum and Hadxaifong districts, and in a village in Vientiane province. All their vegetables are delivered to the organic market at the That Luang esplanade. Vientiane is suitable for growing more organic produce because the soil remains largely unpolluted by chemical fertilisers. The Agriculture Promotion Bank should consider helping farmers to eliminate the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides because of the negative impacts these can have on human health

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