Tree planting project yields improved living standards
In the five years since Mr Inthavong Thavixay joined the tree plantation project run by the Burapha Agro-Forestry Company, the living standards of his family have gradually improved.
Today, he earns at least 20 million kip a year from a eucalyptus plantation project by clearing bush and digging holes. He also earns income from planting rice and pineapples. He now has enough money saved to pay his medical bills and for his children’s education. Most importantly, his family has been removed from the list of those officially classified as poor in his village.

Mr Inthavong Thavixay (centre left) explains the benefits of the tree planting project to reporters.

Mr Inthavong has come a long way. Prior to 2013, Mr Inthavong, of Phonkeo village in Meun district, Vientiane province, grew rice but did not have enough for himself and his family to eat year round. He also was not able to save money for medical bills, and lived in a flimsy house with bamboo walls and a grass roof.
The family’s income rose when the Burapha Agro-Forestry Company increased the payment from 50,000 kip to 70,000 kip for people working its land.
This labour fee paid by the company was set in 2013 when sticky rice cost 40,000 kip-45,000 kip for 12kg and jasmine rice cost 80,000 kip – 90,000 kip for a 12kg sack.  But today living costs have risen compared to five years ago and sticky rice now costs 60,000 kip-70,000 kip for a 12kg sack while jasmine rice sells for 100,000 kip – 120,000 kip. 
A senior official at the Burapha Agro-Forestry Company, Mr Visouk Laonorya, said villages that participate in the project benefit from a seven-year rotation scheme, as follows.
Year 1: planting of trees and rice; Year 2: planting rice when suitable due to shade from the trees; Years 3-7: Cattle grazing; Year 4: Thinning operations; Year 7: Clearing and cutting of trees and restarting the cycle. The farmers then follow a normal cycle and shift to cultivation.
After that, the cut eucalyptus and acacia wood will be made into chairs, tables and other furniture before being sold in Laos or exported.
So far, the company has planted more than 4,000 hectares of eucalyptus and acacia in more than 30 villages in Xaythany and Sangthong districts of Vientiane; in Paklai district, Xayaboury province; and in Phonhong, Hinheup, Keo-oudom, Xanakham and Meun districts in Vientiane province.
Burapha is the first and oldest plantation company in Laos. It has been planting trees and rice with Lao farmers for more than 25 years. At the end of 2016, more than 3,000 hectares of eucalyptus and acacia had been planted. It has developed extensive experience in land quality, silviculture practices and social practices for optimal plantation operations.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 4, 2018

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