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Laos targets safety as priority for agricultural produce
Publication Date : 07-10-2013
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Agriculture Department is devising measures to ensure the safety of agricultural produce grown in Laos for domestic consumption and export.
The department has formulated standards for agricultural goods but has not yet set clear policies for producers, according to agricultural officials.
To encourage farmers to grow crops in line with international standards, the department, under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, is focusing on four specific areas, department Director General Dr Monthathip Chanphengxay said at a press conference in Vientiane last week.
Those areas are organic agriculture, good agricultural practice, pesticide free production, and conservation agriculture.
Dr Monthathip said each of these aspects involves different practices but they all have the same goal – to ensure safety, environmental protection and sustainability.
The practices recommended under these systems will help to cut farmers' costs by reducing their outlay on chemicals, while the market price of clean agricultural products is higher.
The government has already paved the way for farmers to grow crops through clean agriculture, but the sector lacks the funding and experts needed to put these methods into practice.
However, clean agriculture is gradually expanding in Laos as more farmers' groups and companies in Vientiane and the provinces respond to consumer demand, a department official, Thavisith Bounayasouk, said.
Most of the country's farmland is suited to clean agriculture because most rural farmers have grown their crops using traditional, chemical-free methods.
Monthathip said Laos could benefit from the marketing of organic crops when the country becomes part of the Asean Economic Community and the Asean Free Trade Area in 2015.
Laos has formulated standards for clean agriculture in domestic agricultural production, aiming for food safety, as well as the regulation of imported vegetables and fruit.
If these goals are to be reached, good cooperation between the government and private sectors is essential.
As the most responsible se ctor, the Agriculture Department will try to introduce measures and formulate policies to encourage farmers and agri-business operators to carry out the recommended practices.
The department has alread y created a logo that certifies products as Laos Organic and Lao Good Agriculture, as a quality guarantee.
Some farmers' groups and companies have already been issued a logo certificate by the department, and the department is confident that more will meet the required standards in the next few years.