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

Rubber export revenue rises despite persistent low prices

Vientiane Times, 28 November 2014

The country’s income from the export of rubber products increased substantially this year despite the crisis in rubber pricing in the world market. In the last fiscal year the country earned about US$96.7 million from rubber exports to China, Vietnam and Thailand, of which only US$37 million had come in the first six months according to the Agriculture Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.The price of rubber in the country has currently dropped to just over 4,000 kip, while varying between 7,000 and 8,000 kip at beginning of the year. After the number of rubber trees that were mature enough to tap had increased substantially, rubber went to the top of the list of Lao agricultural exports as the highest revenue earner.

Fruit exports were listed second with an income of almost US$72 million, most of which came from the export of bananas, watermelons, papaya, oranges, cashew nuts and palm seeds. In third place was coffee with exports worth more than US$70 million. Next was sweetcorn, worth US$60.2 million, US$53.4 million for cassava, US$8 million worth of sugar and around US$6.8 million of rice. The country also exported many other kinds of crop such as peanuts, soybean, cardamom, sweet potato and other non-timber products for processing by local business. This year the country has received around US$394.2 million in agricultural export income and the ministry expected this figure will be increased next year. These figures relate only to exports going through the international plant protection checkpoints in the country. The numbers might be a little different if the authorities were able to get accurate details of the volume of agricultural products going through each relevant sector around the country. Also, some figures are unobtainable as there is still illegal trading going on along the borders. To increase revenue for socio-economic development contribution, the government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, plans to encourage Lao farmers to grow more and expand the variety of commercial crops for both the domestic market and export. In the last fiscal year (2013-2014) farmers around the country were encouraged to produce more coffee to reach 89,000 tonnes, one million tonnes of sweetcorn, 1.5 million tonnes of cassava, 1.6 million tonnes of sugar and 175,600 tonnes of job-tear and were told these figures would be increased in this fiscal year. The agriculture and forestry sector expands by an average of 3.3 percent a year to contribute 24.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the ministry. Last year, however, the sector expanded only 2.9 percent, contributing about 24.4 percent to GDP.

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