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Many farmers start to grow coffee to earn a living.

Xieng Khuang farmers hope coffee crop will change their lives

For decades, the people of Phouxeo village in Xieng Khuang province’s Phoukoud district relied on slash-and-burn agriculture and the cultivation of opium poppies, but despite their efforts their lives did not improve.
In 2018, several families planted coffee trees, encouraged by local authorities and a Korean company called Connors Estate.
The switch is in line with the government’s policy to help rural people earn more income, while also putting a stop to opium poppy cultivation and slash and burn agriculture, which has caused extensive deforestation.
Coffee grower Mr Khamphone Touayang said “My family now earns more from growing coffee. This year I earned 9 million kip after selling my fresh coffee cherries for 9,000 kip per kg and dried cherries for 17,000 kip per kg. If the price is reasonable, I’m sure that many farmers will start to grow coffee to earn a living.”
So far, 16 families have planted 19,250 coffee trees in Phouxeo village on an area of 7.7 hectares.
The Connors Estate provides them with the required species and promises to buy the beans from them.
Among the coffee varieties provided by the Connors Estate are SL28 from Kenya, Java (Indonesia), Catimor (Vietnam) and Panamageishia (Panama).
The Covid-19 pandemic did not stop the process, and Connors Estate buys 2-3 containers of coffee green beans (each holding 20 tonnes) from farmers in Champassak province’s Pakxong district and farmers in Phouxeo village each year.
Over the years, many growers have lost money when the sale price of ginger, pineapple and sweetcorn plummeted, which made people wary about growing only one crop. 
As a result, many farmers now diversify and no longer rely on a single crop for their income. That’s why many families are reluctant to grow only coffee for the export market, which is known to be fickle. 
The Chief of Phouxeo village, Mr Yiayer, said several families began cultivating coffee but didn’t have enough money or workers to tend to the trees they had planted.
“However, families who take good care of their trees can get a good yield,” he said.
“I’ve planted coffee trees on 5-6 hectares of land. But because I have other crops to take care of in order to make a decent living, I have less time to tend to the coffee trees.”
But Mr Yiayer said that if the sale price of coffee remains reasonably stable and people learn they can make more money from coffee than other crops, many more villagers will plant coffee trees.
Xieng Khuang province has always been known for livestock farming, but now coffee has become an alternative or additional livelihood.
Coffee is now grown in Xieng Khuang and Huaphan provinces in northern Laos, bringing new opportunities to raise people out of poverty.
Over the past several years, the government has promoted coffee production in 11 provinces of Laos with a view to supplying high-quality products to local and foreign markets.
Until recently, coffee was grown only in the southern provinces, such as the Boloven Plateau in Champassak, and then Saravan, Xekong and Attapeu provinces.
Mr Khamphone believes that coffee farming will help alleviate his family’s poverty and decided to give it a go after going to Pakxong district in Champassak province where the majority of people derive their main income from coffee cultivation.  
“I was encouraged by coffee producers in Pakxong district (situated on the Bolaven Plateau) to grow coffee on a commercial basis. I could see that growers in Pakxong were able to make enough money to support their families, and felt that we should do the same thing in my province,” he said.
“I plan to plant another 3,000 coffee trees, as I believe the crop will change my family’s life for the better.”

Farmers plan to plant more coffee trees in Xieng Khuang. Farmers hope that coffee will change their lives for the better.


 

 

By Times Reporters
 (Latest Update June 13, 2022)


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