As their neighbors, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a coffee producer country. Even if the production stays limited, with around 25 000 tons a year, compared to Vietnam (more than 1 million ton), or even Thailand (around 60 000 tons) and it has not been well known worldwide, a large part of the population is living on the coffee production.
The Laotian coffee has been mostly comprised of Robusta and has been losing value over the past few years. Only a handful of producers does not suffer from the decreased coffee value thanks to their big production, and in certain cases to an organic certification. For this reason the country is seeking for new ways to protect its coffee by extending the organic certification to more growing areas, which might mean the opportunity to really take more significant share of the international organic coffee market.
Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers Cooperative gathers local farmers producing organic coffee, and has been involved in the geographical indication (GI) project to help strengthen the Lao coffee supply chain. With the production being so small, the strategy used so far was clearly to rely on increasing the coffee’s quality by introducing more Arabica in the farmers’ production. The organic cultivation and the location’s specificities such as the composition of soil, the climate or even the traditional skills of the producers, are unique and considered to be a perk which might positively result in granting country’s first GI. GI is seen as one of the necessary tools for obtaining international recognition which would give Bolaven coffees much needed boost and protection from the counterfeiters. [Sources: nationmultimedia]