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Lao Communities Cash in on Handicraft Training

Lao Communities Cash in on Handicraft Training

9 November 2012 For immediate release

VIENTIANE – Laos’ Community-Based Tourism for Sustainable Economic Development Project (CBT-SED) is turning handicraft and food production training into cash in four provinces, by upgrading quality and embarking on branding and marketing campaigns so villages can profit from their goods.

Though the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Lao Government’s CBT-SED’s “Turning Training into Earnings” initiative just kicked off in 2012, the project is already reaping rewards.

CBT-SED Programme Director Thavipheth Oula said, “Our aim is to train villagers about the supply chain by showing them how to transform local resources into quality products, properly package and brand their merchandise, and effectively bring it to market.”

Due to villages’ varying resources, skill levels, and potential markets, CBT-SED must adjust its approach for each social enterprise.

The trial stage for trail mix production is underway at Luang Namtha Province’s Xieng Lae Village, Sing District. “Training the trainer” sessions introduced similar goods, and stressed using local pop rice, dried fruits, peanuts, honey, and sesame seeds in the recipe. The village is targeting provincial tour companies and Eco-guide Units to offer the trail mix to clients.

CBT-SED is also building bridges among Luang Namtha’s weavers and Luang Prabang-based handicraft dealer Ock Pop Tok (OPT), who gathered in Ban Khone Kham for a natural cotton dyeing workshop.

A project-initiated session with an Houay Hong Training Centre trainer brought together village producer group leaders representing 64 cotton textile producers and OPT to cover the supply chain and costing. The gathering also presented an opportunity for OPT to explain its orders, find solutions for inconsistent colours, and improve the transaction process.

The villages’ finished goods– skirts, scarves, bed spreads, napkins, table runners, and handbags – are also sold at the Luang Namtha Night Market and to a Bokeo Province broker, who trades in Thailand.

In Bolikhamxay Province’s Ban Na Village, CBT-SED is helping brand and market bamboo tissue boxes, bowls, and sticky rice baskets while improving product quality and inking contracts with handicraft merchants. In mid- 2012, the project cooperated with Xao Ban Bamboo Crafts to train 29 villagers in weaving methods, designs, colour choices, dyeing, and refining goods.

Ban Na villagers also designed labels for its products, which will be sold to visiting tourists, retail shops, and at trade fairs. Xao Ban Bamboo Crafts in Vientiane have purchased more than 500 tissue boxes since March 2012. CBT-SED may expand this model to nearby Ban Yang Kheua.

Thong Yai Village, in Bolikhamxay’s Pakxan District , is receiving CBT-SED support in developing popular jeo oad paste, used for dipping hot sticky rice. Preparation entails steaming large “elephant ear” leaves and grinding them with garlic, chilli, salt, and sometimes grilled fish.

The Public Health Department is training 14 Thong Yai villagers on hygienic production, while the Provincial Tourism Department and villagers are creating a convenient, crispier tasting product with a longer shelf life, by using a dehydrator, purchased with CBT-SED funds. The village has also repackaged jeo oad into three sizes of labelled jars for sale at local markets, the village, and trade fairs.

CBT-SED invited trainers and traders from Sayabouly Province, where locals have been processing raw cotton into finished good for generations, to Naxi, Xieng Khouang Province, to teach villagers about cotton production, from planting to finished product. Naxi plans to launch its cotton enterprise by offering traditional clothing and textiles to visitors and at the provincial Visitor Information Centre in Phonsavanh and Khoun Town.

In Khammouane Province, CBT-SED is focussing its training efforts on quality assurance and product branding at the Tham Pa Fa (Buddha Cave) market, 7 km from Thakaek.


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