Coffee exports by Laos set to exceed US$112 million in 2017

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The value of coffee exported by Laos is expected to exceed US$112 million in the 2017 fiscal year, an increase of 3 per cent compared to 2016.

Coffee exports topped US$74 million in the first six months of this year, an increase of US$50 million compared to the same period in 2016.

Favourable weather and increasing demand from overseas markets, especially Vietnam, Japan and China, are the main reasons for the surge in sales, according to the Lao Coffee Association.

Association Office Head Mr Sivixay Xayaseng told Vientiane Times on Friday that many companies have supported and encouraged local farmers to grow more coffee under the 2+3 system and to set a purchasing plan before reporting the figures to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The 2+3 policy is a government initiative that encourages investors and land owners to partner in industrial tree plantations.

The system refers to a framework where farmers must provide land and labour while investors provide funding, technical support and a ready market for growers.

Mr Sivixay forecasts that this year more than 40,000 tonnes of coffee will be harvested for export, an increase of 10,000 tonnes compared to 2016. 

This figure excludes domestic consumption, which is also trending upwards, he added.

Many farmers have cleared their land in recent years so they can grow coffee and are now harvesting the crop, Mr Sivixay said.

Coffee is a popular crop because it generates a better income than other agricultural products. Some coffee farmers have switched to growing cassava instead because their land is 600 metres above sea level.

About 70 percent of the coffee grown in Laos is cultivated on the Bolaven Plateau with other large farms in Laongam district, Saravan province, and Thataeng district in Xekong province.

Altogether there are coffee farms in 10 provinces.

A Chinese company has also planted coffee in Phongsaly province, Mr Sivixay said. 

Coffee is one of Laos’ top income earners among all exports of agricultural products, so the association has asked the government to step up the monitoring of coffee being smuggled through border crossings.

This would ensure accurate figures of the amount of coffee being exported by Laos, Mr Sivixay said.

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