Laotian bananas continue to be a top earner among all agricultural products, with the total export value of agricultural produce in 2020 reaching almost US$1 billion. This is despite trade restrictions due to the pandemic.
According to the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the value of bananas sold to countries neighboring Laos, mainly China and Thailand, in 2020 increased to about US$227.4 million. The amount of bananas grown for export has steadily increased, as more plantations created under the contract farming system become ready for harvesting.
However, the number of investors and banana plantations decreased after the government stopped awarding concessions for new plantations, also ending agreements with companies that had violated regulations. The Lao government says banana plantations should be operated in line with good agricultural practices and its policy on clean, green and sustainable agricultural development.
In 2018, Laos earned US$600 million from the export of agricultural produce, rising to US$750.8 million in 2019 and US$943 million in 2020. About 80 percent of the produce was sold to China.