Lao Economy

Xekong Coffee Growers Exasperated By Price Drop

Source: Vientiane Times

Agricultural officials have soothed coffee growers enough in the southern province of Xekong before they began pulling their crops in favour of others due to a recent drop in price.

An official from the Xekong provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, Mr Somvang Khammavong, told Vientiane Times on Friday that officials had advised the farmers in Dakcheung district not to cut down their trees simply because of the low prices.

The province’s coffee plantations are made up of mostly new growers, harvesting only a few times since the beginning of 2008, when the crop was first planted in this part of the Boloven Plateau on an area of about 13,000 hectares.

“They wanted to pull up their trees and plant other crops instead as they felt helpless to have been receiving only 1,500 kip per kilogramme of raw fruit for the past year from the Dao Heuang Group, when that price had been over 10,000 kip a kilogramme previously.” Mr Somvang said.

The low price is not only being experienced in Xekong but is also an issue on the larger global market right now.

Many local growers in Champassak province’s Pakxong district and Saravan province’s Lau-ngam district say that planting coffee trees in those parts of the Boloven Plateau have also been impacted by the falling prices.

But authorities hadn’t heard from farmers in provinces of Champassak and Saravan wanting to destroy their trees, only those in Dakcheung district. Mr Somvang told growers in Dakcheung that he understood where they were coming from but he hoped the growers would still harvest their fruit for sale even if prices were currently low as it is a much better option than destroying them.

Nowadays, the production of coffee has become saturated, making the prices cheaper for the consumer but officials believe that one day those prices will rise again. Officials have yet to find growers in Dakcheung who have destroyed their trees, as they’ve now only complained to authorities about wanting to cut down their trees during the current prices.

Coffee from the Boloven Plateau is now sent to European countries, including France, Germany and Poland. Japan and Korea are the biggest Asian importers.