The early 2000s saw a boom in the banana farming sector in southern China. By 2008, the fruit had become an increasingly popular target of investment, with low supply and soaring prices, and banana plantations were set up across China, as well as in Myanmar and Laos.
In rural areas of Laos and Myanmar, farming bananas for export to China is a key avenue of employment: thousands of local people are employed in a business which spans thousands of hectares of land. A 2017 report from Plan International revealed that Chinese-owned banana plantations in northern Laos’s Bokeo Province alone cover more than 11,000 hectares, generate US$100 million in annual exports and make up 95 per cent of all exports in the region. At the same time, a Mekong Region Land Governance report stated that in 2019 northern Myanmar’s Kachin State was estimated to have 170,000 hectares of land converted into banana plantations.