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Many of the vegetables on sale at Vientiane markets are imported from neighbouring countries.

Ministry calls for ban on imported agricultural produce 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has advised a ban on the import of certain vegetables and other agricultural produce, to help boost the cultivation of these crops in Laos while also tackling the problem of inflation.
The recommended list of vegetables includes white cabbage, cauliflower, onions, garlic, tomatoes, large chillies, potatoes, carrots and beetroot.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Phet Phomphiphak proposed the ban at a meeting of government officials and private sector representatives, held in Vientiane last week.
The import of some types of pork, beef and fish will also be banned, except for premium grade meat, lamb and ostrich needed by restaurants and hotels.
Seafood can be imported but should be strictly regulated in line with set quotas and time periods, Dr Phet said.
The combined value of imports and exports exceeded US$1 billion in July. Exports were valued at US$429 million, while imports were estimated at US$595 million, resulting in a trade deficit of US$166 million.
Farmers in Laos can produce about 6.53 million tonnes of rice, vegetables and other agricultural produce annually. This figure comprises 3.72 tonnes of rice, 2.31 million tonnes of vegetables and cash crops, and 507,644 tonnes of meat, fish and eggs. These quantities enable average annual per capita consumption of 68.2 kilograms, Dr Phet said.
Most of the food produced in Laos is sold or consumed by farming families, while some is stored for future use.
However, most farmers still use traditional methods to grow crops and raise livestock and are highly dependent on seasonal weather conditions, meaning that the supply of fresh produce can be erratic.
Farmers are also struggling with the high price of imported agricultural inputs, especially fertiliser and animal feed.
Some traders have resorted to importing these products illegally, which reduces the amount that can be sold by local producers.
High transport fees are another problem for farmers and the rising price of fuel price is also driving up the cost of growing vegetables and other produce, with farmers struggling to meet market demand.
The government is encouraging farmers and producers to supply more goods to the domestic market and to produce more for export, as this will bring in much needed foreign currency and help reduce high foreign exchange rates.
The government is making a concerted effort to strengthen agricultural production, with the aim of boosting crop yields and exports so that fewer agricultural imports are required.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 19, 2023)

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