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

Oudomxay banana farms unable to renew contracts

Source: Vientiane Times, June 10, 2017
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Oudomxay_132.html
A number of banana farms in Oudomxay province have ceased operations after their contracts expired following numerous complaints from local residents that their operations were negatively affecting the environment.
The farms are operated by 11 concession holders. Seven companies are still continuing their operations but four companies’ contracts have expired and the authorities will not renew them.
A provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department official, Mr Bounyeun Xayyaven told Vientiane Times yesterday the 11 companies had concessions and rented the land of local residents to operate their banana farms, but four of those companies had ended their work after their contracts expired.
The seven companies that are currently still in business will also cease work when their contracts expire, he said, adding that in each case the investors are returning the land to their owners upon the expiration of their contracts.
Of the remaining companies, some still have three year contracts while others have five year contracts but they must comply with government policy on environmental protection as long as they are still in operation, Mr Bounyeun said.
Last year, the Prime Minister’s Office ordered farms that were preparing to cultivate banana trees to cease work. Companies that own thousands of hectares of banana plantations where trees have already been planted will not be allowed to plant any more after harvesting the crop.
Chinese-owned banana farms are not only found in the north of Laos, there are also hundreds of hectares of bananas under cultivation in Vientiane province and the capital.
According to a National Assembly report in October last year, some provinces are using too many insecticides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers, but this issue did not feature in reports submitted to the Assembly.
Some people became ill and some allegedly died after pesticide was sprayed on farms, but the reports did not say where this had occurred.
There are no bananas grown on Chinese-owned farms for sale in local markets as the farms send all their fruit to China. The bananas are packed in cardboard boxes for immediate shipment to China after they are harvested.

By Siladda Souliyong
(Latest Update June 10, 2017)

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