|Sun drying coffee beans in Laos|
We have recently completed a successful 5 months input into the Northern Uplands Development Programme (NUDP) in Laos. The Programme has been funded by the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) and has run for about four years, drawing to completion on 31st March 2016. The programme's technical assistance operated from Luang Prabang with a national coordination office in Vientiane. Note #1
FoodWorks provided the services of the Senior Agribusiness and Value Chain Specialist. Mr. Geoff Quartermaine Bastin reviewed and evaluated grant-based micro sub-projects in horticulture, livestock (including forage), coffee and spices (cardamom, benzoin, agarwood). The work included training district-level officials at agriculture offices and technical service centres in business planning, gross margin analysis, project implementation and value chain development. Eddie Vernon, our Senior Partner for Agronomy, provided support for the coffee research from a base in Paksong which is the main growing area in the south of the country. Coffee has struggled in the North from poorly directed investment and lack of marketing which NUDP sought to correct.
|Cardamom (growing under forest shade and dried pods)|
Two well-attended workshops were conducted at national level for coffee and cardamom. Both private and public sector representatives heard detailed industry reports.
A short mission was undertaken to Guangdong Province in China with Dr. Thipavong Boupha our local counterpart expert to meet cardamom buyers and manufacturers of traditional medicines. We found that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a multi-million dollar market that shows significant growth; good news for Lao growers of cardamom and other medicinal plants which are indigenous to the northern upland forests.
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Note #1: FoodWorks was sub-contracted to NUDP via SOFRECO