PAKSONG, Lao People’s Democratic Republic – Tea and coffee farmers in Southern Lao People’s Democratic Republic are set to benefit from higher production capacity and lower processing times after receiving new equipment from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The equipment is expected to help farmers from ten producer groups in the Paksong District of Southern Lao People’s Democratic Republic to meet increasing market demand. It should also help lead to higher incomes for producers.
The initiative is a collaboration between the ILO, through projects funded by Japan and the European Union, the Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers Cooperative and the Paksong Tea Promotion Association.
“The workers, who are mostly engaged in informal employment as household units, are often working long hours in poor and difficult working conditions and facing accidents from old, unsafe and improperly-used machinery,” said Mr. Seangthong, President, TA.
“Tea farmers usually rely on traditional processing methods like drying the tea leaves in the sun or stirring the leaves to release moisture. When they have insufficient equipment, farmers have to travel long distances to use the machinery in other farms and villages, leading to loss of valuable production time and possibility of accidents on dirt roads, especially in the rainy season. The new equipment will significantly cut down processing time”, Mr. Seangthong, President, TA, added.
Equipment handed over included solar lights for farms, high-pressure washers, moisture metres, drying and withering machines, tea leaf rolling machines, storage equipment, and personal protective equipment.
The ILO is also transferring IT equipment to the newly established Social Security Office in Paksong District, to allow better service delivery to local farmers.
“Through this initiative tea and coffee producers in Paksong District have received the equipment and support they need to boost production and incomes while simultaneously gaining awareness about labour rights and access to social security. This will help reduce the vulnerabilities faced by farmers and returnee migrant workers,” said Ms. Loveleen De, Programme Manager, ILO.
This initiative was supported by the ILO/Japan project entitled “Reduced vulnerability of returnee migrant workers through linkages to employment opportunities and integration into local economic development in response to COVID-19″ and the European Union-funded: “SOLAR: Advancing social protection and labour rights and entitlements in the coffee and tea sectors of Lao PDR, and the private sector in Southern Lao PDR.”