In Laos, cattle production is dominated by smallholders who have limited access to market information, and export markets that increasingly demand high quality beef. Marketing at the village level is conducted by cattle collectors and middlemen who live in the same village (Figure 2). On average, there are 1-2 collector/middlemen in each village. Most collectors do not possess trade license, which means that they only operate at village level. Transactions are in cash payment.
Small traders/collectors at village and district level buy animals and move them by trekking over small roads and tracks to the nearest truck loading point. Larger traders based in major towns organise collection by truck and supply the urban market, as well as exports and border trade. In each district, there are about large ruminant traders, each with a capacity of trading about 8-20 cattle per week. Each cattle trader deals with 5 to 10 cattle collectors.
Pricing among traders downstream of the chain is exclusively done on a “per-slaughter-output-kg” basis.
Inter-provincial and trans-boundary trade requires movement permits consisting of documents obtained from different offices against the payment of fees and taxes. Taxes are variable (per head), while fees are fixed (per set of document). Bulking animals thus helps reduce permit cost (Lüthi, 2010). The latter vary across districts. Taxes and fees are collected by respective District Agriculture and Forestry Offices.