ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Lao vegetable farm to resume Middle East exports
Publication Date : 15-10-2012
Shipments of vegetables and fruit grown by a local firm -- Pakxong Organic Farm -- to the Middle East look set to start up again by March after a major buyer suspended orders because of transport problems.
“We are sure we can continue our business with this client because we signed a logistics service agreement with Lao and Thai companies last March,” farm owner Inpeng Samuntee said on Friday.
Under the agreement, refrigerated cargo trucks will transport fresh organic vegetables from Laos to a warehouse at a Thai port, where they will be properly packed and loaded onto a cargo plane or ship for destinations in the Middle East and Europe.
Inpeng said four refrigerated trucks will pick up and deliver crops each week, with each truck carrying 2 to 4 tonnes depending on the crop.
The 500 hectare organic farm in Pakxong district, Champassak province, grows bananas, pineapples, cabbage, asparagus, peppers, lettuce, onions, carrots, radishes, zucchini, potatoes, ginger, chayote, tamarind, coffee and tea.
Earlier this year, exports to the Middle East were suspended after the buyer said the produce did not appear to be fresh on arrival. The problem arose because of the difficulties faced by the farm in arranging suitable transport.
The farm had shipped 800kg of vegetables to a Middle Eastern country. But the goods were returned and the buyer, Halal Food Group, asked for shipments to be suspended until a more efficient method of transport could be organised.
The goods were not fresh on delivery because they were not packed in refrigerated cargo trucks. The produce was well packed, but was only shipped in an ordinary truck, with the packages placed on ice to keep them fresh.
They went through Thailand and underwent checks there before being loaded onto a cargo plane. But on the way the produce encountered high temperatures and began to deteriorate.
Halal Food Group wants to import 370 tonnes of fruit and vegetables per year from the farm. Before exports can resume, Inpeng will have to wait until the farm receives new certification from the Group, which carries out product testing and soil and water analysis before buying halal products for supply to the Middle East.
Inpeng said Group representatives recently visited the farm to monitor crop production, and will return at intervals to make further checks until the crops are ready to be shipped.
“We are sure we can meet the Group's requirements because we have quite a lot of experience working with them and we've received organic certification from them previously,” she said.
The farm also has grassland where cattle graze. The anim als are reared for their meat and also for the manure they produce, which is used for vegetable cultivation.
The farm uses fertiliser made from animal dung, rice straw, waste vegetables and rice husks.