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Sangthong district officials seize illegal cassava
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Sangthong district officials seize illegal cassava
 
Vientiane Times, 12 March 2010
 
Sangthong district officials stopped three trucks carrying more than
30 tonnes of illegally obtained dried cassava on Tuesday night in
Vientiane.
 
The trucks, belonging to a local import-export company, were stopped
while they were delivering the dried root crop for export to a
neighbouring country.
 
“Our officials inspected the trucks and found they had unclear goods
transport documents and transport routes,” the district's Deputy Head
of Office, Mr Khamphanh Keopaseuth, said yesterday.
 
“Our inspection also found that the cassava actually belongs to the
Lao Indochina Group Co Ltd (LIG).”
 
The LIG provides funding and assistance to farmers to grow the crop,
on the condition that the produce is sold back to them.
 
But the import-export company bought the cassava from farmers who are
members of the LIG in Sangthong in an under-the-table deal.
 
“We recently bought the raw cassava at a cost of 280 kip per kg at the
farm, but the import-export company did it at 300 kip per kg,” said
the office head of the LIG branch in Sangthong district, Mr Bounleung
Volady.
 
The company had been warned once last week about a similar issue and
had made an agreement to stop buying cassava from members of the LIG.
 
“But this is the second infringement and they will be fined
accordingly,” Mr Khamphanh said.
 
“The cassava has to be sold back to the LIG, which invested in the
plantation. However, this issue is still awaiting further
recommendation from the district governor.”
 
The import-export company bought the cassava from LIG members before
slicing it with machines and drying it.
 
The district officials will also investigate where the slicing
machines came from.
 
There are currently over 440 families who have planted cassava in the
district and each family has about 2 to 3 hectares of cassava that was
given under a promotion by the LIG with support from Nagnobay Bank.
 
“However, about 10 of them sold cassava to that import-export company
recently,” Mr Bounleung said.
 
The farmers who sell cassava to other buyers will also be warned, he
said.
 
Sangthong farmers currently grow around 1,110 hectares of cassava. LIG
expansion plans will increase this to 2,200 hectares to boost powder
production capacity in Pakngum district, mainly for export to China.
 
Laos also has a cassava processing plant in Meun district, Vientiane
province, which began production last year and primarily exports to
Vietnam.
 
A factory in Champassak province will start production this month for
both local and overseas supply.


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