New value crops like Japanese cucumbers are helping farmers in the Lao People's Democratic Republic maximize their land and generate additional income.
K.P. Company, which first introduced export-grade cucumbers in the country as part of its social responsibility program, has helped 92 farming families through this inclusive business scheme, providing employment to more than 300 people.
K.P. Company was one of the finalists of the first ASEAN Inclusive Business Awards, which was held in 2017.
The Asian Development Bank, through its Inclusive Business Support Project, is helping governments and the private sector put in place policies, programs, and incentives for inclusive businesses across Asia and the Pacific.
Khammouane Province, Lao People’s Democratic Republic - Subsistence agriculture is still a primary source of livelihood in the Lao PDR.
But new value crops are now helping farmers maximize their land and generate additional income.
K.P. Company first introduced export-grade cucumbers as part of its social responsibility program.
“Back in 2007, we [were] approached by a Japanese company that requested us to do some research on how to grow Japanese cucumber for export,” says Chittarath Philphandeth, known as Bee, who serves as Executive Vice President, K.P. Company Ltd.
“We [tested] for three years. Finally, in 2010 we were able to produce the products and send the cucumbers out to Japan.”
The cucumbers are farmed in rice paddies during the dry season as an alternative to low-value crops.
“I was selling watermelons near the village of Don Magba when I saw people selling cucumbers,” Kenkam Photilapp, a farmer taking part in K.P. Company’s cucumber planting program.
“That gave me the idea to join the program the following year.”
Farmers are guided throughout the growing season and expected to follow a strict protocol.
“I am happy farming cucumbers now,” comments Photilapp.
“K.P. Company sends staff here to teach us how to farm cucumbers, and this really helps.”
Farmers falling short of expected targets receive additional training.
After harvest, the cucumbers are brought to a processing center where they are prepared for export.
Farmers are guaranteed a market under the program, ensuring stable prices for their products.
“I am very happy with this program. Our fields are close to the processing plant and we get paid immediately for the cucumbers we produce,” says Kommari Kompadit, Chief of Kengpair village.
“It’s not like for watermelons, which we sell by roadside to people who pass by.”
To date, K.P. Company has helped 92 families, providing employment to more than 300 people.
“In the past, it was very difficult to earn money and I had financial problems,” says Noy Fonenoy, a farmer and truck driver taking part in K.P. Company’s program.
“Thanks to the cucumber program I can earn money for my family now. It is good to put the effort and see the results.”
Over the next three years, 100 additional families will join this inclusive business program.