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Coffee farming energises fortunes of rural family

Waking up early to care for his coffee trees has become the normal routine for Mr Phouthone Simthaphasert because he knows this has helped his family to escape poverty and have better living standards.

Mr Phouthone's family had been earning a living through the slash and burn cultivation of rice for a long time but their income remained low and they lived in poor conditions. But their living standards improved dramatically after he replaced the rice with coffee plants.

Growing coffee has helped Mr Phouthone's family to rise above poverty.

He lives in Saravan province, located in southern Laos, where the land is suitable for growing a variety of crops, including coffee. Many families have now taken to growing coffee to help them earn more money.

Mr Phouthone, who lives in Nambaeng village, Lao-ngam district, belongs to a community that had depended on slash and burn cultivation for many decades.

He said that in 2000 the family started to think about growing coffee. Growing crops for sale and personal consumption is part of the Lao government's policy to improve living standards and move people out of poverty. This also motivated Mr Phouthone's family to grow coffee.

After that, he received three hectares of land from his parents to grow coffee but the initial yield was of low quality. The family then switched to a new variety of coffee and used modern growing techniques, which yielded better quality and quantity and generated more income.

To ensure the sale of his coffee, he decided to become a member of a cooperative that supports commercial coffee production.

In 2006, his family's income had improved so much from the sale of coffee that he expanded his coffee farm by adding seven more hectares. This step also helped him increase the yield each year.

On average, his coffee plantation now yields about 20 tonnes a year. The coffee is sold through the cooperative for about 13 million kip per tonne, and Mr Phouthone's family earns alm ost 260 million kip a year.

He said his family now hires local people to help on the plantation who have to be paid wages. But the annual income is sufficient for the family to even save some money.

Initially, Mr Phouthone and his wife had to work very hard, but with the plantation now making a profits, this does not bother them. He says with a smile that his family now has a better life and growing coffee is a good way to make a living.

“Growing coffee is hard work and we must be patient, dealing with the elements of nature as we take care of the plants. We must give the trees time to grow for about three to four years before we can harvest the coffee beans,” he said.

In the future, his family will, if possible, add more land to the plantation because this will help to increa se their earnings.

Mr Phouthone's family has become a model for his community because of their work hard over many years. If others can follow their example, it will help the government to achieve its goal of eradicating poverty.

 

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 23 , 2017 )


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