What problems do you face as a coffee farmer?

Pakxong is known as the land of Lao coffee, with most locals earning a living from the crop, which is a significant export product. Vientiane Times visited the area and talked to some coffee farmers about the problems they face.

 

Mr Loui: Growing coffee is not hard work. We don’t need to feed the plants; we just have to remove the weeds that grow around them. It takes four or five years for the crop to reach maturity. The sale price varies each year and this year we were only able to sell the beans for a very low price.
A coffee vendor: I know that farmers aren’t happy with the price they’re getting for their coffee this year, and I’m not happy either. I buy the Catimor variety of coffee from farmers for 2,100 kip and sell it for 2,170 kip. Last year I bought Catimor coffee for 3,700 kip per kilo and Typica for 6,000 kip, but this year I paid 4,200 kip for Typica. I don’t know what can be done to help farmers because Daoheuang isn’t buying coffee from them this year. If Daoheuang buys coffee next year that would be good because the sale price will rise again I hope.

Ms Champathong: These days farmers have a big problem because the price we get for the crop is very low and next year it looks like being even lower. Villagers sell their coffee beans to Vietnamese companies because the government has contracts with them. What I don’t understand is, if there’s a contract, why does the sale price keep going down. We should enter into agreements with other foreign companies so that we can obtain a better price. Fortunately I can speak a little English so I can sell to foreign companies and to visitors, who give me a much better price. I really think the government should care more about farmers and talk to villagers about why the price is dropping. I don’t want to people falling into debt through coffee farming.

Mr Heun: My coffee farm is not big. I spend more time working on a strawberry farm and then I work on my own farm on my day off. We can only harvest one coffee crop a year but recently the sale price has been very low so I don’t want to do it anymore.
Ms Air: I’ve had more problems this year because the crop hasn’t yielded many beans and the sale price has fallen to as low as 2,200 kip per kilo of red beans. Last year I got almost 4,000 kip. The price right now is so bad and we’ve already given half the money to the pickers. If the price we get continues to be low, I’ll stop planting.

Mr Yamamoto, owner of the Yamamoto Strawberry Farm: The land I farm isn’t really suitable for coffee cultivation because there’s too much fog in this area. My coffee trees haven’t produced any cherries yet. Farmers in Pakxong have a problem with the price but I bought the crop from them for the same amount as in previous years because my customers give me a good price. The government should educate people about how to grow coffee. I like Pakxong coffee because some of the crop here is grown organically. Ensuring reliable markets is essential for villagers. The government should step in and work with them more closely now that the price is so low.

Ms Bua: In previous years more than five companies bought our coffee and last year we got a good price from Daoheuang but for some reason they’re not buying now. I’ve only been able to sell my coffee to Vietnamese businesses, and one of those closed this year. What I earn this time will not be enough. If the price gets lower, we can’t continue to grow the crop.

Mr Nom Sangvilay: My family is a member of the coffee association and I have a contract with them but I don’t want to sell my coffee to them this year because the price is very low. But I don’t know where I can get a better price. Last year I sold red coffee for 3,600 kip per kilo but now I can only get 2,100 kip. That price is terrible because I’ve paid the pickers 1,000 kip so that means I just get 1,100 kip per kilo.

By Times Reporters 
(Latest Update December 5, 2018)


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