Explore Beautiful Bolaven Plateau: Laos’ Coffee Growing Region
Coffee farmers improve their product quality and re-invest in community development…
The relatively unexplored Bolaven Plateau in the south of Laos is an excellent environment to grow coffee. This beautiful, elevated region is covered in rich volcanic soil and has an altitude between 800 and 1350 meters. Travelers exploring this area, will cross several ‘front yard dry areas’. Here local families spread out their coffee cherries in the sun to dry. Colors of the cherries vary from green to red to black. Until a few years ago, most of these family farmers sold their beans to big factories. Unfortunately, it is difficult for these small operators to compete for good prices with the larger scale coffee producers and exporters next door in Vietnam.
Last year, Jhai Coffee House was founded in Paksong, Laos. This is the world’s first philanthropic coffee roaster and café located at the product source where all profits are reinvested into the local community. The idea is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for a whole community of coffee farmers in Laos by encouraging sustainable development.
Photo 2 by Jhai Coffee House
Jhai Coffee House buys coffee beans from local farmers above the Fair Trade price (a standard set to support sustainable development). The farmers are also supplied with tools, education and resources to grow the best tasting coffee. In this way, quality becomes more important than quantity, which generates more profit per acre. In return, the farmers and their cooperative organization must fund a percentage of the cost of equipment to pump clean water or build toilets at children’s schools. This co-investment model gives the local village a sense of empowerment and ownership instead of fostering dependency on donations and handouts.
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