Laos eyes sale of 500,000 cattle to China

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos is seeking ways to boost the annual sale of locally-reared cattle to over 500,000 animals – the number required by Yunnan province in China. 

The steps needed to increase exports will be backed by studies undertaken by the National Institute for Economic Research.

Addressing a meeting at the institute on Tuesday, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said one of the most interesting fields to be prioritised for study is how Laos can meet the demand for cattle in Chinese markets.

“During our recent working visit to China, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, said China has opened its markets to Lao products, including vegetables, fruit, rice and animals,” he said, adding that 500,000 cattle were needed annually by Yunnan markets. However, Laos has been unable to fulfil this demand.

Mr Thongloun advised the National Institute for Economic Research to focus on livestock farming in order to increase the number of animals raised.

He also recommended that the farming of goats, sheep and other animals should be studied and analysed. Fact-based knowledge would help to develop the Lao economy in line with government guidelines, he said.

The government will help the institute by finding more experienced researchers to work there, and supports the idea of establishing a science council unit by seeking retired and experienced scientists to be associated with the council.

The reason that some Chinese buyers are interested in Lao cattle is that this breed does not have a high fat content and the cattle are naturally reared.

Laos has suitable land and other natural resources to breed cattle for commercial purposes, but lacks financial support and expertise.

In addition, livestock breeding for commercial purposes requires a modern farming system to meet the growing needs of national consumption and export.

According to a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry report, the number of livestock farms increased by about 10 percent in 2018, up from 1,247 to 1,370 farms last year.

In 2019, the total number of livestock increased by 5.2 percent. The number of cattle reached 1.92 million - an increase of 5 percent.

Acording to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Laos earned about US$36.6 million from the export of cattle and buffaloes in 2017 and the figure hit US$69.5 million in the first 10 months of 2018.

Meanwhile, livestock exports to Vietnam were valued at US$27.9 million in 2017, while they were worth US$59.7 million in the first 10 months of 2018.

Exports to China increased from US$8.73 million in 2017 to US$9.77 million in the first 10 months of 2018, while the export value for 2019 is unavailable.

Livestock are among Laos’ top three export products to Vietnam and among the top 20 products sold to China.

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