Small Farm Helps Rural Family Make the Move from Poverty

Rural residents across Laos have been working in agricultural production and animal husbandry for centuries and it has played a central role in creating better living standards and helping them move away from poverty.

Mr Nouphan Norlabout’s family is similar to many other families in the country’s remote rural villages; living off their crops and animals for years because they don’t have the education or vocational skills to do anything else.

Mr Nouphan lives in Meuangham village, Botaen district in Xayaboury province and has been lucky enough to help take his family out of poverty after the success of his family’s agricultural production and animal husbandry which has led them to become a role model in their community.

Mr Nouphan is one member of a family that grows organic vegetables and rice and raises animals to sell, earning more than 40 million kip in a year an annual income that is enough to change their living standards for the better.

Mr Nouphan explains that previously his family only grew rice to sell and to eat and found that they could only earn small amounts of money often ending up with just enough to eat for the family’s eight members.

In 2010, he consulted with the family on ways to put more money in their pockets and finally decided to keep growing rice but that after it was harvested they would grow organic vegetables and start raising animals to sell, hoping to improve their conditions step-by-step.

He said that the family decided to grow organic vegetables because they were easier to sell and not dangerous to the health of the family, who were also consuming the veggies everyday.

In their garden currently, the family is growing many kinds of organic vegetables including lettuce, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, chillies, eggplant, cucumber, bean, tomato and sweetcorn which has helped them earn income more than 15 million kip per year by selling them to vendors in Botaen and Kaenthao districts who come directly to the family farm to buy them.

Mr Nouphan said that it wasn’t difficult to start growing organic vegetables and that if one has the patience and good intentions they can start growing to help themselves earn a greater income and use the vegetables to consume within the family.

He also says that he uses the dung from the animals he has reared as fertiliser which has reduced costs that he would have had to pay to buy chemical fertilisers, also suggesting that the use of animal dung was much better for their health.

Mr Nouphan believes that other people can do the same thing that his family has done if they have enough space to grow different crops and rear animals and that this is even in the policy of the government to help improve living standards for the better in the country.

Besides growing a variety of organic vegetables his family is also raising poultry and cattle for sale and for personal consumption.

Mr Nouphan is also continuing to grow rice and in one year, on average, the family harvests more than 20 tonnes. If one adds the income from growing organic vegetables, rice and animal husbandry the family can earn more 40 million kip in a year.

After working hard for many years and putting his shoulder to the wheel to grow and rear his animals and produce Mr Nouphan believes this has been what has contributed to the family bettering their living standards and moving them out of poverty.

Mr Nouphan’s family has now become a model for their community and Mr Nouphan says that he is even ready to start teaching their techniques on how to grow organic vegetables and raise animals to anyone who is interested.

Vientiane Times, April 22, 2017. LAO PDR