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Broom making sweeps poverty away

"If your home has some dust or garbage and needs cleaning, some of you may use a vacuum cleaner to do the job. But a vacuum cleaner may be an expensive purchase for people on low incomes.
The khaem broom is a good alternative for people who are looking for something cheap to sweep the dust away. Today, we believe that most Lao people should use this kind of broom to clean their floors.
This creates a sustainable income for the people who make these brooms as their main job. The people of Meunluang village in

Bachiengchaleunsouk district, Champassak province, are a model group for producing khaem brooms for sale.
At least 160 out of the 220 families who live in the village make the brooms as their main job, helping them to stay away from poverty.
Deputy Head of Meunluang village, Ms Id Mithpasa, said making brooms was a skill inherited from previous generations. 
Seeing that this work can bring in a useful amount of income, local authorities are closely supporting the villagers and making sure the brooms are of good quality.
Broom makers strictly follow the regulations laid down by the government authorities after the production group  was set up in 2010.
The group was established with the aim of producing good quality products in sufficient quantity to meet market demand. They can sell brooms themselves for the same price as they fetch in markets. Most of the raw materials needed are grown by those who make the brooms.
Those who don’t have any pampas grass on their land have to buy it from Pakxong district, also in Champassak province. The grass costs 2,000 to 3,000 kip depending on quality.
The group can make brooms all year round because the raw material is always available. Each broom maker can assemble 12 brooms a day which are sold for 2,500 kip each.
But the price of brooms increases if customers order ones that are thicker than usual. “If we use more pampas grass to make the brooms, they will be more expensive, but they still should not cost more than 10,000 kip,” Ms Id said.
Selling brooms is very easy. Some members of the group sell their products at markets and some carry them in their own vehicles to sell in nearby communities.
In addition, vendors sometimes visit the group to buy brooms from them directly. They come from as far afield as Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong and Attapeu provinces.
Ms Id observes that today these brooms are popular and says the amount produced does not match market demand.
The work is lucrative too as members of the group can make a good profit. For example, if one member invests 600,000 kip in the process they can make a profit of 300,000 kip.
“This is good money and enables all members of the group to live above the poverty level and have a sustainable income,” Ms Id said.
Making brooms in their own village also means people don’t have to cross the border to find work.
As the brooms have provided the villagers with a sustainable income and there has been good feedback from customers, they were approved as a ‘One District, One Product’ (ODOP) item of Bachiengchaleunsouk district in 2014.
“The ODOP certificate creates confidence among customers because it is a guarantee of quality,” Ms Id said.

By Xayxana Leukai
(Latest Update October 7 , 2017 )

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