Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lao tea industry brewing up more markets

By: Vientiane Times, September 10, 2016

The Lao tea industry has the potential to expand production in the country’s mountainous regions especially for quality organic tea, as there was growing overseas demand, according to an industry expert.

A tea entrepreneur from northern Laos, Bounchan, also commented that Laos has wild tea trees aged 400 to more than 1,000 years old, whose leaves fetch high prices on international markets.

The country is now continuing to expand production, encouraging local farmers to increase their plantations in Phongsaly province, where 1,000-year old tea trees were discovered, along with Oudomxay, Xayaboury, and Champassak’s Pakxong district.

“The country also has set a clear plan to continue promoting tea planting and production through cooperation with Chinese investors,” he said.

For example, Phongsaly province has the capacity to process up to 5,000 tonnes of tea per year with tea now being grown on around 2,650 hectares of land, which is already distributed to both domestic and international markets.

Oudomxay has received Chinese investment and is ready to process good quality tea for the domestic market and export to China.

Tea plantations in Pakbaeng district will have the capacity to process up to 8,000 tonnes of tea per year, adding to the province’s tea production potential.

An organic tea trader in Pakxong, Sengthong, told Vientiane Times that his tea plantation had steadily increased in line with demand since 2014.

Sales of tea have increased from 300 kg to 500 kg per month, exported to Cambodia while some were sold to tea companies in the district, which is then packaged and sold domestically or exported to Thailand.

Meanwhile, officials from the Agriculture Promotion Sector without quoting exact figures said that recent tea exports had increased steadily. However, for the Lao tea industry to expand more local farmers in targets areas needed technical training to boost the quality of production.

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