The farmers in Keoset were fortunate that their coffee crop was harvested, processed and sold before the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the lockdown has been lifted, it’s a good time to share experience.
In mid July 2020, coffee farmers and buyers from across the North of Laos came together in Phonsavanh, Xieng Khouang Province, for a three-day meeting organised by the RECoSeL, a French-funded project that is supporting the “Reinforcement and Expansion of Coffee Sector in Laos”.
During the meeting, the farmers from Keoset – along with the team of advisors from LURAS – were able to share the technical manual they have produced and present their experience in organisation, management and contracting. On the final day, the participants of the meeting visited the factory of Mueang Xieng Coffee , one of the companies that is buying from Keoset.
The harvest has started in Keoset and farmers are on track to more than double their production of organic Arabica coffee. At the same time, visitors from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) came to see how these high quality beans are processed. SDC support for coffee production in Keoset goes back nearly 10 years, when the farmers of Keoset received training under the Small-scale Agro-enterprise Development in the Uplands (SADU) Project. In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, SDC is now supporting further improvements in coffee production and processing through the Lao Upland Rural Advisory Service (LURAS), with the private sector playing an important role in providing advice and incentives that help farmers improve both the quantity and quality of their coffee.
The SDC visitors included, Mr. Jean-François Cuénod, the new Regional Director of Cooperation for the Mekong Region. Also in the group were Mr. Christian Engler, Deputy Regional Director and Head of the Agriculture and Food Security Domain, and Ms. Mila Marie Lomarda, Regional Advisor for Disaster Risk Reduction. All of them were able to enjoy a delicious cup of Keoset coffee after observing the hard work being carried out in Pieng and Tantai villages.
Coffee producers from Keoset participated in the celebration of International Coffee Day, which was held in the historic city of Luang Prabang on 12th October.
Farmers from two Keoset villages – Ban Pieng and Tan Tai – travelled 300 km to prepare their booth with assistance from staff of the Khoun District Agriculture and Forestry Office and the Lao Upland Rural Advisory Service (LURAS). On display at the Heuan Chan Heritage Centre were green beans produced by the farmers in addition to finished products that are sold by Comma Coffee and Mueang Xieng Coffee.
Among the hundreds of visitors to the Keoset booth was Mr. Thongsavanh Phanthalavong, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Technical Extension and Agro-Processing (DTEAP) who can be seen here talking to Mrs Chandy Khamouan, Head of the Ban Pieng coffee farmers group, and Mrs Siphanh Phommavong, who is responsible for coffee development at the District Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO).
Lots of interest was shown in a new set of coffee production manuals that have been produced by LURAS based on the experience of the farmers in Keoset. Copies were requested by other farmers, including representatives of groups from as far away as Phongsaly and Champassak. These illustrated technical guidelines in Lao Language will soon be available for general distribution.
More pictures from this event are available at Lao Coffee Culture.