Enterprising farming family sows seeds of prosperity

Growing rice was not enough to sustain Mrs Boupha Minaxay and her family so they decided to grow more crops and raise animals as well, which set them on the road out of poverty.

Rearing fish for sale is one way to earn money. –Photo Meuangkham

Farming on a larger scale is the best option for people living in rural areas who are looking to improve their lot and climb the ladder to a better life.

It is the government’s policy to attempt to raise everyone out of poverty so that Laos can achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and eradicate poverty by 2020 as targeted.

Initially , Mrs Boupha and her family grew rice just for their own use but they never seemed to have enough. They decided to grow more but still had only a small surplus that they could sell, which made it difficult for the family of seven to improve their lifestyle. So they took the decision to grow other crops as well, and to keep livestock.

After doi ng so for several years, the family had enough food for their own needs as well as some to sell. Their lives have changed dramatically and they are now recognised as a model in their community on how hard work can turn things around.

Mrs Boupha and her family live in Kuanphan village, Yommmalath district, Khammuan province.

Mrs Boupha is a member of the district’s Youth Union and is enthusiastic about improving her family’s living standards, just like other families in the community.

The family expanded on their three hectares of rice fields, which yielded only 2.5 tonnes a year, and bought another two hectares of land so they could grow more crops.

Now they harvest almost nine tonnes of rice a year and the rice they sell brings in more than 17 million kip a year which the family saves and uses to pay their household expenses and purchase various goods.

However, in the dry season they can’t grow rice because there’s no water, so they grow sweetcorn on one hectare instead.

In fiscal years 2012-14, the family earned 30 million kip from the sale of sweetcorn, further augmenting their income.

In 2014, they decided to dig a fishpond into which they put 1,500 fingerlings. When the fish grew larger they sold them and earned another 4 million kip a year. In 2016 they dug two more fishponds and reared another 30,000 fingerlings.

As well as farming fish, rice, sweetcorn, sugarcane, bananas and cassava, the family also rears cattle, goats and poultry.

Now they are earning more than 110 million kip a year so they have left poverty far behind and have savings in the bank.

Mrs Boupha will continue to grow crops and rear animals because it has set the family on the path to prosperity and they can now pay all their expenses each month.

The family has not had any formal training in farming but has learnt from experience and sought advice from other people. They are now able to help others in the community who plan to grow crops and rear animals of various kinds.

The family is now a model household in Kuanphan village and is contributing to community efforts to stamp out poverty and build hopes for a brighter future.

Source: Vientiane Times. Date: October 22 2016