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Snack-fueled production group chips away at poverty in Vientiane province

Ms Chanthao Tanming slowly slices taro into thin chips before frying them to perfection in piping hot vegetable oil.

Fried taro is one of many snacks produced by Ms Chanthao's group from their base in Xanakham district, Vientiane province.

While visiting the district many customers like to buy this snack to take home as a gift for friends or relatives.

Products offered for sale as a result of the group's efforts include tamarind jam, pi neapple jam, buttery roasted and sun dried bananas, fried taro and fried sweet potato.

Sweet potato fresh from the farm.

Such products are increasingly popular among customers visiting and stopping on their way through Xanakham district.

Now, they can be increasingly purchased in the natio n's capital as orders are coming in from more markets.

Since the group was established in 2000, Ms Chanthao has observed that the living standard of its 15 or so members has improved gradually.

Joining the group directly benefits producers allowing all p roducts to be set at the same mutually agreed price.

In addition, it is very easy for the group to standardise the quality of its products.

Officials from the Trade Promotion Dep artment of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce previously offered training on how to make safe production and supplied some equipment to the group.

After that the ministry continued to closely monitor the gr oup to ensure that all products are made to the right standard.

Then products from the group passed a quality check by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Industry and Commerce continuously.

The group received ‘One District On e Product' recognition certificate for Vientiane province in 2012.

Today, if people have a chance to visit Xanakham district, they are well advised to buy items from Ms Chanthao's snack group as a popular symbolic food of the area.

The group's products are available at shops run by members and their households.

Bags of chips start from 10,000 kip.

It takes about three hours to reach Xanakham district from Vientiane by car.

Ms Chanthao said that normally there would be many orders when there are special festivities.

This means that most products should be ordered one week in advance.

While range and production is on the rise, she exp lained that the group is not yet able to compete directly with imported products from neighbouring countries.

Similar products from neighbouring countries can be produced more cheaply than those made by the group.

In addition, the packaging is more colourful.

However, she hopes that the group will receive the right guidelines from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce for improving product packaging, helping them to secure a foothold in markets further afield.

“The province has the potential raw materials for making these products,” she said.

“Our women, our main workers to make these products, are ready.”

By Xaysana Leukai
(Latest Update April 1 , 2017 )

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