Hadxaifong Farmer Reaps Rewards of Agriculture

He picks his hednanglom mushroom crop for four months in a row and gathers hedkhonkhao mushrooms to sell over a period of six months. And he sells limes in the summer when the price is high.

The money he has earned from the sale of mushrooms and limes has gradually improved the living standards of Mr Sommalath Vongkhounsy and his family, who live in Haddokkeo village, Hadxaifong district.

Being born and raised in an agricultural district, Mr Sommalath enjoys farming very much. His love of this work combined with his diligence and the success of his mushroom and lime crops has provided the family with a steady and sustainable source of income. He earns many millions of kip each year from the sale of mushrooms and limes as he grows them using the right techniques.

In 2012, wanting to improve his family’s circumstances and reap the benefits of agriculture, Mr Sommalath decided to visit a neighbouring country with a relative to learn about the best ways to grow nanglom and hedkhonkhao mushrooms. A year later, he grew 300 bags of mushroom as a pilot scheme and was delighted to find that the yield was greater than he expected.

He continued to study mushroom cultivation using various books. Finally, he decided to set up a mushroom farm and hired people from his community to grow mushroom seedlings. To meet market demand, Mr Sommalath increased his yield from 300 to 800 bags of mushrooms. Every year since then he has increased the number of bags and is now growing 70,000-80,000 mushroom seedlings on an area of 800 square metres.

The hednanglom variety can be picked for at least four months continuously. The species is highly productive and of a good weight, but special care is needed to ensure a good quality crop. The hedkhonkhao mushrooms can be harvested for at least seven months continuously and can be picked every day. This variety is easier to grow than hednanglom.

Market vendors visit Mr Sommalath to buy his mushrooms every day. To further boost his income, Mr Sommalath grows lime trees in concrete tanks, which is a popular method of cultivation in neighbouring countries. He decided to grow limes to make the most of the mushroom waste, which he adds to the soil packed into the tanks. He began by planting five lime trees in five concrete tanks.

He found that the trees grew very quickly and bore a lot of fruit. So he decided to invest more than 18 million kip to buy saplings and more concrete tanks.

He now has more than 1,800 lime trees growing on an area of 40m x 40m. The species he grows are tahishi, paenphichit, neungthounkao and paenphouang , which are all are imported from neighbouring countries.

The limes are ready for harvesting and sale just one year after planting. Luckily he is able to choose the best time to harvest the fruit so that he gets the best price. He usually picks the limes in summer when they sell for 10,000-15,000 kip per kg. He also earns a little extra money by selling the trimmed branches of the lime trees.

Now my family enjoys a better s tandard of living thanks to the mushrooms and limes we sell, which bring in millions of kip every year, Mr Sommalath said.

Vientiane TimesFebruary 4, 2017. LAO PDR