Raising awareness on the cooperative model among coffee farmers in Lao PDR

Facilitators were trained on the cooperative model including its principles, values, structure, function and related legislation and policies to then train 400 coffee producers in villages of Dak Cheung district in Lao PDR.

News | 28 November 2023
Agriculture is the backbone of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) economy, contributing around 28 per cent of the GDP and around 70 per cent of the population working in the agricultural sector. Coffee is one of the country’s top agricultural crops with high export value, and Lao PDR is the third largest coffee producer in Southeast Asia.

However, most coffee farmers in Lao PDR are small producers and face challenges, such as lack of skills, low productivity, and low capacity for commercialization. Smallholder coffee farmers in rural areas are also exposed to poverty, which disproportionally affect ethnic minorities.

In this context, cooperatives can improve smallholder livelihoods. By working together and pooling resources, members can often achieve economies of scale, negotiate better prices, and develop services together to better meet the needs of their community.

Lao PDR is modernizing its cooperatives. There is limited awareness on governance and management of cooperatives. The government expects to adopt a new cooperative law in 2024 integrating cooperative principles and measures for cooperative development.

Ms. Heejin Ahn, Technical Officer in ILO Bangkok delivered two sessions of My.COOP Managing your agricultural cooperatives on the supply of farm inputs and cooperative marketing, services that the cooperative can provide to its members to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of the activities and products of its members and non-members.

The first session on supply of farm inputs focused on key considerations in making decisions on processes of procurement, storage and stock management and selling services. The second session focused on marketing, including collective marketing and adapting responses to the changing contexts.

Throughout the Training of Trainers (TOT) programme the participants applied the learning to case studies. The TOT session also included visits to Cooperative of Sustainable Eco Coffee (CSEC) and Dak Lai coffee village. After the training the four facilitators are expected to train 400 coffee farmers, to raise awareness on the benefits of cooperative model, and support coffee producers in developing sustainable cooperatives in 12 villages of Dak Cheung district in Lao PDR.

My.COOP Managing your agricultural cooperatives is a training package and programme on the management of agricultural cooperatives, for existing and potential managers and members involved in managerial tasks of the cooperative.

The training was conducted as part of the Building Youth Capacity and Network in Asia-Pacific project, in collaboration with the Sustainable Production and Ethic Responsible & Women Empowered Coffee Value Chains in Lao PDR (SuPER WE) Coffee project, which support the formation and strengthening of cooperatives, and the development of a green, low-carbon, resource-efficient and circular economy. The project is led by CARE France with partners including Haliéus, International Cooperative Alliance – Asia-Pacific and International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin.

Here is also a write up from the International Cooperative Alliance - Asia and Pacific region on the Training of Trainers (ToT) for Empowering Coffee Growers in Laos PDR.