Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm Milks New Farming Concept
It all started quite a few years ago with a couple of tourists who had great memories of Sri Lanka’s curd (a kind of yoghurt made from buffalo milk) and upon arriving in Laos asked at several restaurants for the same, but were only met by blank stares.
In Laos the whole concept of milking buffaloes was unknown, so the founders of the Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm began by talking to a local village headman and after watching a few YouTube clips learned how to milk three buffaloes.
Through trial and error over the years they now have an impressive farm up and running with a strong focus on quality products, marketing and sustainability, working in close relationship with local villagers and their buffaloes.
Providing additional income and education to local farmers is a very important part of the farm’s aims. This is done by renting cows from farmers, using imported bulls (*) for breeding and making sure that the new-born calves get the right nutrition from the start.
This breeding program is being done with the full cooperation of the Lao Agricultural Institute. Afterwards the cows and their very healthy calves are returned to their owners.
So through renting and producing a healthier livestock the farmers get a good deal, plus they get training on the ‘why’s and how’s’ of the whole process of which the first step really is: ‘keep your farm clean’!
Workshops are given at the dairy to provide more practical experience for teachers and students from the Northern Agricultural College. At the same time internships are provided in the production facility for local women in order to acquire skills and work experience.
At another level promotion is being made to get Lao people – especially children – to drink and eat buffalo dairy products for two reasons: not only have buffalo dairy products more health benefits than standard dairy ones, malnutrition among Lao children is still a serious issue and therefore this is a good way of providing them with (locally made instead of imported) additional nutrition.
From the beginning the emphasis has been that the farm and its products shouldn’t be only sustainable but also practical. With that in mind the farm’s location was carefully chosen: on the way to Kuang Si Waterfalls – easy for tourists to drop by – the big sign alongside the road mentioning ice cream is hard to miss!
Besides offering tours explaining the concept of the farm, freshly made dairy products are available for sale on the spot. Another good sign is that the farm has already begun to supply various Luang Prabang hotels and restaurants with its high-quality products and demand is increasing!
The Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm can be visited by both FITs and small groups for short tours and snacks or longer tours that need to be booked in advance.
(*) Lao buffalos aren’t that strong/healthy due to inbreeding, therefore using Indian Murrah Buffalos will help to improve the milk yield in future generations, ensure better calf survival rates and help the farmers make a higher profit from their larger and more productive buffalo.
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