At the beginning of October will be celebrated the international coffee day across the world, and in Laos for the third time. This year two events will take place in Luang Prabang at Heuan Chan heritage house (2nd to 4th) and at Vientiane Center (9th to 11th) respectively.
Co-organized by the Lao Coffee Lovers, a group gathering coffee afficionados from the public, private and development sector, and the project for the Reinforcement and Expansion of Coffee Sector in Laos (RECoSeL), funded by the French Development Agency (AFD), the ICD have as main objectives to recognize and promote Lao coffee and the thousands of farmers, processors, roasters, baristas (…) involved in this dynamic sector.
Laos is getting on the international scene as a coffee producing country, with a planted surface of about 70,000 Ha mostly located in the Bolaven Plateau in the South, where coffee was introduced by the French settlers in the early 1920’s. More recently, coffee is grown in Northern provinces as an alternative to non-sustainable agricultural and commercial activities, or even to opium.
The production is largely ensured by smallholders and to a lesser extent by private larger plantations.
Laos remains quite unknown as a coffee origin, which would be an advantage in the current context where consumption trends are evolving toward more exotism. Indeed, Laos could not compete with its Vietnamese or Indonesian neighbors for instance, in terms of volumes, as the conditions or the production systems are not suited for large quantities of medium to low quality coffee which would furthermore expose Lao coffee farmers and most of stakeholders to the contingencies related to the international mass market. Thus, Laos’ asset would be to play the role of a small actor who is “doing things differently”, aiming at greater economic, social and environmental benefits for the development of its smallholders through the production and commerce of quality coffee.
This is where promotion is important and should contribute to bring the national production toward quality, valued through higher prices. To do so, efforts are made to get certifications recognized in niche export markets in order to secure viable incomes, professionalize the value chain actors, and to promote socio-economical and environmental sustainability of practices.
The development of a domestic consumption is also part of the plans to increase the value of coffee products, which also contributes to build some chains of actors and to create new employment opportunities. The Lao Coffee Lovers act in this direction, with a vision that stimulates the emergence of a Lao Coffee Culture among the people and through the mobilization/cooperation of various stakeholders. The younger generations are particularly targeted and involved.
The international coffee days are organized in this frame and aim at improving the knowledge of the large public about coffee in all its aspects, from production to consumption. This celebration is also an opportunity to promote ethical and sustainable practices in the Lao coffee sector to better contribute to development goals such as the reduction of poverty, a reasoned management of natural resources, and an economic development considering local assets or potentials.
Beside some general information about coffee growing and processing, the visitors will get the possibility to participate in various presentations or demonstrations by coffee professionals, including some initiation to coffee cupping to learn how to identify flavors, taste structure of coffee, or for example to know the different brewing tools or methods to prepare coffee drinks.
In Luang Prabang will be present some key development partners who have been working in Northern uplands, where a local coffee identity and network is taking shape. In Vientiane more actors from the final parts of the industry (roasters, baristas) will be part and ensure a lively event.
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