VIENTIANE, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Bananas continue to be a top earner among all agricultural products, with the total export value of agricultural produce in 2020 reaching almost 1 billion U.S. dollars despite trade restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The value of bananas sold to neighboring countries, mainly China and Thailand, in 2020 increased to about 227.4 million U.S. dollars, according to the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
In 2018, Laos earned about 112 million U.S. dollars from the export of bananas, with the figure rising to 197.8 million U.S. dollars in 2019, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.
The amount of bananas grown for export has increased as more plantations created under the contract farming system become ready for harvesting.
However, the number of investors and banana plantations decreased after the government stopped awarding concessions for new plantations and ended agreements with companies that had violated regulations.
The Lao government says banana plantations should be operated in line with good agricultural practices and its policy on clean, green and sustainable agricultural development.
Other key agricultural export earners are cassava, fertilizer, coffee beans, watermelons, grapefruit, tamarind, maize and rice, said the report.
In 2018 Laos earned 600 million U.S. dollars from the export of agricultural produce, rising to 750.8 million U.S. dollars in 2019 and 943 million U.S. dollars in 2020, with 80 percent of produce being sold to China.
The Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has approved a list of crops, crop products and controlled substances that are a priority for negotiation in opening up the market for the sale of goods to China.
The first priority crops are sweet potatoes, tobacco, jackfruit, longan, orange, grapefruit, dragon fruit, chilies, passion fruit, soybeans, green beans, peanuts, eggplant, cabbage and pumpkins.
Crops named as a second priority are tea, Job's tear, rubber, melons, sugarcane, limes, pineapples, coconut, papaya, rambutan, guava, sweetcorn and cardamom.
The Lao government is working with various sectors and businesses to improve the quality of agricultural produce in a bid to increase exports to China.
Although the value of manufactured exports has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, the top earner in this sector is wood pulp followed by rubber, drinks, clothes, camera components and electrical equipment.
In 2019, Laos earned almost two billion U.S. dollars from the export of industrial products, with the figure falling to 1.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, according to the report. Enditem