The Department of Trade Promotion under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has listed the top ten Lao rice varieties for domestic sale and export. Laos has about 12,000 rice varieties but many of them still need improvement for commercialisation, department Director General Mr Somvang Ninthavong told Vientiane Times recently. Countries such as China, the Republic of Korea and others in Southeast Asia have taken a liking to Lao rice after studying the different species, especially black sticky rice, because it is free of chemicals, he said. However, the top ten rice varieties still have insufficient markets as Lao producers and businesses have been trying to process these rice products for export, he added. Buyers normally order rice products that appeal to their markets based on taste and nutritional value. Mr. Somvang said Laos produced about 2 million tonnes of rice in addition to domestic needs but less than this figure was exported as the quality was below market requirements.