VIENTIANE, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Bananas were expected to be Laos' leading agricultural export in 2019 despite the Lao government banning the expansion of plantations around the country, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday.
In 2017, Laos earned 167.9 million U.S. dollars from banana exports, The figure dipped to 112 million U.S. dollars in 2018, but was expected to increase to 168 million U.S. dollars in 2019, according to the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The bulk of the crop will be sold to China and some will be sold to Thailand.
Other major agricultural export earners in Laos were expected to include cassava with sales reaching 129 million U.S. dollars, raw coffee at 143 million U.S. dollars, rubber at 105 million U.S. dollars, maize at 34 million U.S. dollars, and 25 million U.S. dollars worth of rice.
The commercialization policy on banana production benefited rural people. The most notable outcome of this policy has been the influx of investors to assist Lao banana growers in the country's northern provinces of Bokeo, Luang Namtha, and Oudomxay which led to an increase in banana exports from 46.6 million U.S. dollars in 2015 to over 197.8 million U.S. dollars in 2016.
In Luang Namtha province in 2016, the net economic return to the investor was 20 million Lao kips (about 2,319 U.S. dollars) per hectare per year. The return from the lease of land was 15 million Lao kips (some 1,739 U.S. dollars) and a laborer received about 780,000 Lao kips (some 90 U.S. dollars) per month.