Illustrative image (Source: Reuters)

Vientiane (VNA) - Banana is expected to be Laos' top agricultural export in 2019 despite the local government’s ban on the expansion of plantations around the country, according to local daily Vientiane Times.

In 2017, the Southeast Asian country earned 167.9 million USD from banana exports. The figure dipped to 112 million USD in 2018, but is expected to rise to 168 million USD in 2019, according to the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The bulk of the crop will be sold to China and some to Thailand.

The commercialisation policy on banana production benefits rural people. The most notable outcome of this policy has been the influx of investors to assist Lao banana growers in the country's northern provinces of Bokeo, Luang Namtha, and Oudomxay which led to an increase in banana exports from 46.6 million USD in 2015 to over 197.8 million USD in 2016.

Other major agricultural exports of the country are expected to include cassava with sales reaching 129 million USD, raw coffee at 143 million USD, rubber at 105 million USD, maize at 34 million U.S. dollars, and rice at 25 million USD.-VNA