The farmers of Tan Tai village recently had a visit from the manager of Aromdee who tasted their products back in October during the celebration of International Coffee Day. Aromdee is a social enterprise based in Luang Prabang with a strong connection to Souphanouvong University and rural communities in the North of Laos.
As a result of the meeting in Tan Tai, facilitated by the LURAS project, Aromdee agreed to make a first purchase of one tonne of coffee, thereby joining Muang Xieng Coffee and Comma Coffee as private sector partners in the development of Keoset Coffee.
Keoset coffee and Phousan tea attracted the attention of some Very Important People during the 8th Meeting of the Xieng Khouang Provincial Party Committee earlier this month.
Among those tasting the coffee and taking an interest in the guidelines produced by Keoset farmers in collaboration with the LURAS project were Her Excellency Pany Yathotou, President of the National Assembly, Mr. Bounchan Sivongphan, Provincial Governor, Mr. Bounhome Thedthany, Director of the Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office, Mr. Thongsavath Mangnomek, Director of the Provincial Industry and Commerce Department, Mrs. Khamsay Thipdala, Acting Head of Lao Women Union… and many other local officials.
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”.
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.