The new Lao Cassava Association (LCA) will not only promote cassava business units in Laos, but also create a business-friendly environment for them to survive and thrive in the competitive economy.
The official launch ceremony of the new association took place on Thursday in Vientiane in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bounkhuang Khambounheuang.
Speaking at the ceremony, LCA president Inpeng Samountry said cassava businesses kick-started in 2005 in the provinces of Vientiane, Xaysomboun, Bolikhamxay, Saravan, Sekong, Attapeu and Champasak.
The businesses rapidly expanded initially and then slowly declined with cassava businesses encountering a series of hurdles and then some eventually going bankrupt. The plight of the farmers who had sought loans from the government became worse.
In 2012, the government tried to improve the agricultural promotion policy, in particular the 2+3 contract farming form, causing some cassava business units in central and southern parts of Laos to stabilise their businesses with domestic and foreign support of investors, she said.
In 2014, around 12 cassava business units encouraged village groups and households who grew cassava to participate in a project to promote their products for export in Champasak, Sekong and Saravan provinces.
There were a total of 6,586 families in 86 villages and seven districts who joined the project to grow cassava on a total area of 14,732ha.
Since then member companies of the association have annually exported 550,000 tonnes of cassava – including 350,000 tonnes of dry cassava and 200,000 tonnes of raw cassava – to Thailand at a warranty cost of 1000 kip ($0.11) per kilogramme of dry cassava and 600 kip per kilogramme of raw cassava.
The value of cassava exports reached 350 billion kip for dry cassava and 120 billion kip for raw cassava which shows cassava business units were able to gain stable income and farmers were able to generate income for their families, said Inpeng.
The committee for establishing LCA was set up in April. The committee organised subsequent meetings to exchange experiences and choose the executive committee before reporting information to relevant departments for consideration.
The association consists of 10 people in the executive committee, 379 member families and 13 business units.
The objective is to create unity within members, create opportunity and potential for business units to deal with competitiveness in a rapidly changing economy and abide by government policy which encourages the business sector to participate in the socio-economic development, she said.