The Lao government is expediting the commercial production of cattle for export, notably to China, in anticipation of the opening of the Laos-China railway.
But while the railway will facilitate the transport of cattle, investment capital of 1.76 trillion kip ($170 million) will be required to run a commercial cattle production project, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The government is encouraging farmers in all 18 provinces across the country to breed cattle for export, driven by growing demand from China.
The move comes as the government realises the strong potential for stepping up cattle production for export, particularly when the $5.9 billion railway becomes operational in December.
The ministry’s Department of Livestock and Fisheries held a virtual meeting recently to discuss cattle production projects with relevant officials and entrepreneurs nationwide.
Department director Vilayphone Voraphim told the meeting that Laos plans to produce at least 50,000 cattle annually.
The current focus is to raise breeding pairs that will produce offspring and to support 100 target farms to enlarge their herds.
Under an agreement signed between the governments of the two countries, Laos has been granted a quota of 500,000 cattle for export to China.
Officials say there are the opportunities and challenges for Lao cattle farmers in strengthening cattle and buffalo production based on China’s needs in terms of quantity and quality.
The sale of cattle to China could generate huge returns, not only to producers and farmers, but also to the nation as a whole.
China is the largest market for all Lao exports, particularly agricultural products. From 2015-2019, the value of Lao exports to China increased by more than $100 million a year.
In June, the ministry ordered its relevant departments to do more to promote cattle farming, encouraging private operators to raise more cattle for sale to China.
Agriculture and forestry departments across the country will inform farmers and producers about the official opening of the Chinese market for Lao cattle.
Chinese buyers require animals that are four years old or less and that weigh at least 350kg.
This means entrepreneurs must invest and raise cattle on a large scale in compliance with the specified requirements. They also need to ensure that their farms are disease free so that livestock meet the quality and quantity requirements for export.
One of the main challenges facing the government’s plan to boost cattle production is the regular outbreak of livestock diseases, especially foot and mouth disease, which is common in Laos.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK