Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Vientiane authorities recently visited several organic farming villages around the capital to observe their growing techniques, listen to their problems, and make suggestions.
According to Vientiane Times reporting, District Governor Vongdeuan Bounyaseng told the premier that farmers grow organic crops, and produce so-called green crops on which they use chemicals in compliance with safety guidelines.
Authorities recognise the need for safe consumption and increased demand for organic crops, prompting the need to promote the cultivation of crops using organic methods.
In Vientiane, some 300 families grow organic crops, Director of the Vientiane Agriculture and Forestry Department, Dr Lasay Nuanthasing, told Vientiane Times. They produce about 3,000 tonnes of organic crops a year, generating a combined income of 6-7 billion kip.
But despite promotional campaigns, organic farmers have long been complaining about the absence of concrete supportive measures. They say their points of sale have often been relocated, which confuses customers. State authorities have not been able to find permanent and satisfactory locations for farmers’ markets.
Growers used to sell their produce in the city centre at a market set up near the That Luang Grand Stupa and at the King Fa-ngum Monument where they did a brisk trade. But these marketplaces were closed down and new locations arranged.
Organic produce is now sold at temporary markets outside Lao-ITECC on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at Dongnaxok village in Sikhottabong district on Mondays and Thursdays, and at a market in Houayhong village, Chanthabouly district, on Saturday mornings.
“I used to sell about 50 kilograms of produce a day at the King Fa-ngum Monument, but now I sell only 20 to 30 kilograms at Dongnaxok village,” said the head of an organic vegetable growers’ group in Nontae village, Xaythany district.
The drop in sales at Dongnaxok and Houayhong villages has been attributed to their location in the outskirts of the city and the crowded environment.
Another challenge to would-be organic producers is that short-term loans of only one year are available for organic farming at a high interest rate.
“Growing fruit takes time, but the loan term is too short,” the growers’ group head said.
Visiting farmers in Bo-O and nearby villages on Monday, the prime minister observed that these villages, which were previously the main suppliers of crops to Vientiane markets, used to produce good quality and tasty vegetables and other crops.
“But it has been reported that it is no longer like that,” he said, adding that some vegetables and crops were tested and found to be contaminated with chemicals.
“I have heard that growers do not eat [the crops they grow. They just sell them – is that correct?” he asked, adding that farmers know what they use on their crops and whether they are contaminated.
Farmers in many provinces face similar problems. Many have used chemicals on their crops without proper guidance, which has resulted in them being contaminated.
Source: Vientiane Times