Champassak province farmers will be supported in planting thousands of hectares of cashew nut trees after the provincial Administration Office gave the go ahead for a US$9 million Korean project.
Deputy Director of the pro vincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, Mr. Viengsay Sipraphone, told Vientiane Times on Monday afternoon that G Farm Company from the Republic of Korea will spend US$6m to construct a cashew nut processing plant and other infrastructure on an area of 150 ha with an adjacent 47 ha plot for seedlings.
An additional US$3m will be invested by the company to support farmers in the province in planting the nut trees and collecting harvests from the growers, he said.
The cashew nut processing plant would be built in Khong district, with MrViengsay explaining G Farm Company were yet to request a specific concession period but should be known today (Tuesday) after the signing ceremony for the project's operation.
When the nut processing plant is erected in Khong district, nuts from farmers in the province will be delivered to the plant.
It's anticipated that nuts from Cambodian farmers may also be imported to supply the factory to ensure sufficient operational capacity.
The provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department plans to promote the growing of 10,000 hectares of nuts in the province. At present, there are about 3,500 hectares under cultivation throughout the province.
The current annual harvest is about 5,000 tonnes, most of which is sold to Vietnam for 8,000 kip per kilogram.
Meanwhile, plans are also afoot to promote cashew nut growing in Saravan and Xekong provinces.
According to the department, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed last year for the processing plant project with the investor G Farm Company.
Currently, cashews appear to have good potential in terms of income generation for local farmers. Vietnam produces large quantities of cashew nuts but is unable to keep pace with demand.
The first experimental cashew plantation in Laos took root in 2009 during a visit by the Vietnamese president, who presented cashew saplings to the Lao government. These were then planted in Champassak province.
Champassak is a province in southern Laos which shares a border with Thailand and Cambodia. Lao coffee from Pakxong district in Champassak is also popular in cafes around the country and with export customers.