VIENTIANE, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- China has agreed to purchase 20,000 tons of organic rice a year from Laos, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told local authorities in the southern Champassak province.
Laos will need to deliver 20,000 tons of genuine organic rice to China and the shipment must not contain non-organic rice, Thongloun was quoted by the state-run Vientiane Times on Sunday.
About 4,000 tons of sticky rice and non-glutinous rice had already been delivered to China following an earlier agreement to export 8,000 tons of Lao rice to China. China has approved an increase from 8,000 tons to 20,000 tons, said the newspaper.
The exported rice to China is being grown in Savannakhet province and Champassak province's Khong district. According to Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in October, only the IDP Rice Mill in Savannakhet province was able to produce quality rice meeting the standard required by Chinese buyers.
There are many rice mills in Laos but their product is of low quality. Based on a nationwide survey, only the IDP Rice Mill has been able to meet the Chinese standards.
China's Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd was approved by China's National Development and Reform Commission to be sole exporter of Lao rice to China with quota of 8,000 tons.
More than 778,000 hectares of wet season rice and over 126,600 hectares of dry season rice are grown annually in Laos. However, about 226,000 hectares of rice fields in flatland areas are totally dependent on rainfall because irrigation channels have not yet been built in those areas.
Since 2000, Laos has exported over 300,000 tons of rice annually to Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries.
Laos is expected to produce about 5 million tons of rice by 2020 to ensure food security in the country. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Laos' rice production reached 4.12 million tons and is predicted to increase to 4.35 million tons in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.