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Phongsaly Brewing Up Coffee Opportunities

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Phongsaly, long renowned for its green tea, is set to be the nation’s first coffee producer in the north after around 3,000 hectares of coffee trees were planted in the province.

Some 7,000 farming families in 140 villages are participating in the project which is being underwritten by the Yunnan Changshengda Investment Co., Ltd.

Phongsaly provincial authorities have now entered into an agreement with Yunnan Changshengda Investment Co., Ltd. and the Chongqing Energy Import and Export Co., Ltd. of China on strategic cooperation concerning cultivation of the crop.

An agreement was signed in Vientiane on Tuesday by provincial Industry and Commerce Director, Mr. Thongsavanh Thammavong, Yunnan Changshengda Investment Co., Ltd. President, Mr. Yin Xinhua, and Chongqing Energy Import and Export Co., Ltd. President, Mr Xiang Yongdong.

The ceremony was attended by Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ms Khemmani Pholsena, Phongsaly provincial Deputy Governor, Mr. KhamphoyVannasane, deputy ministers from the Agriculture and Forestry, Planning and Investment, Natural Resources and Environment ministries, along with Chinese officials in charge of economic and trading affairs to Laos.

The Yunnan Changshengda Investment Co., Ltd. began investing in the province in 2009 and signed an agreement to begin coffee growing trials with Bounneua district authorities in 2011, Mr. Khamphoy reported.

“Following positive trial results the company signed a contract with the five districts of Phongsaly, Bountay, Samphan, Khua and May in 2012,” he said.

As those districts have suitable soil and a good climate for coffee growing, most farmers have received additional income from the crop.

Some farming families have earned about 20,000 yuan (more than 23 million kip) a year, such as in Phouxar village in Bounneua district.

So far, farmers have received about 6 billion kip in total after selling their coffee crop to the company, Mr. Khamphoy said.

Under the project, the Yunnan Changshengda Investment Co., Ltd. has encouraged farmers to grow other commercial crops such as sweetcorn and beans along the rows of coffee trees.

The company has brought funding, coffee marketing and cultivation techniques to the province to improve crop quality so that it is suitable for export markets including China.

The project is part of activities to reduce opium poppy cultivation by creating job opportunities and boosting revenue for local farmers, in a bid to ease their poverty.

Mr. Khamphoy hoped that cooperation between Yunnan Changshengda Investment Co., Ltd. and Chongqing Energy Import and Export Co., Ltd. would help to boost investment in coffee and other crops grown in the province.

Both sides also agreed to build a processing factory capable of producing 10,000 tonnes of coffee a year.

Coffee in Laos is currently cultivated almost exclusively on the Bolaven Plateau in Champassak, Saravan and Xekong provinces with total coffee exports in 2014 reaching 26,000 tonnes at an estimated value of US$60 million, which fell slightly to 23,000 tonnes valued at US$50 million in 2015.

Source: Vientiane Times