Lao PDR to increase agricultural exports through food security and plant health

In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), fruits, vegetables and plant products have significant export potential to the European Union (EU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the China, according to International Trade Center estimates.

The EU in particular accounted for €63 million of agricultural exports from Lao PDR in 2019, or 22.1% of total trade. Not only do these exports contribute to the country’s economic growth, but they also promote domestic employment in one of the country’s key sectors.

Analysis by the International Trade Center (ITC) indicates that Lao PDR’s specialized agriculture has significant export potential, up to $634 million. However, agriculture and food products are among the most regulated sectors of international trade. Consumers in importing countries expect products that are safe for human health and, at the same time, safe for animals, plants and the environment.

In order to ensure food safety and comply with the regulatory framework for the control of plant health and pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, the Systematic Mechanism for Safer Trade (SYMST) project of the Trade Center improves food safety and plant health through better governance in Lao PDR.

A technical working group, organized by the Department of Agriculture (DOA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and ITC, met from 26-27 January 2022 in Laungnamtha province to review and discuss the implementation of SYMST project activities in 2021. action plan for the year.

During the meeting, Chantha Thipphavongphanh, Director General of DOA, said, “Since its launch in 2020, the ITC project has contributed significantly to building the capacity of government and the private sector to identify and address compliance challenges. regulatory measures on plant health and control of pesticides for fruits and vegetables, in particular basil and watermelon.”

With the EU as the funder of the project, the European Union Delegation to Lao PDR, represented by Souphaphone Thaisonsouk, added: “Given the remaining implementation period of the SYMST project, we would like to follow closely the progress of the project.Therefore, I propose the project team to organize a monthly meeting involving the EU, in order to ensure that at the end of the project, we can successfully export or increase the products targeted towards regional and European markets, as we had initially agreed”.

ITC project manager, Margareta von Kirchbach, concluded: “ITC has a long history of collaboration with Lao PDR, and in addition to SYMST, we are also involved in the implementation of the ARISE Plus project. of the Lao PDR with an important quality component in support of coffee and wood processing, and to a lesser extent agro-food.We are actively building synergies between the two projects.

Systematic mechanism for safer trade

The Systematic Mechanism for Safer Trade project provides the necessary skills to participating companies to improve their market access opportunities. It will also help to establish business links between farmers and exporters and increase interest from international buyers. Ultimately, the project will improve opportunities for exporters to access regional and European markets.

The project was jointly set up in 2020 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the International Trade Center (ITC) and funded by the European Union.

Amalia H. Mercado