The youth are the future of farming and food security. However, more and more young people from the rural areas are choosing to move to the urban centers to look for other employment outside the agriculture sector. However, based on a recent study conducted by the Lao Farmer Network (LFN) on youth in agriculture, young farmers will continue tending to their family farms if they can make sufficient income from these. That is why LFN has piloted initiatives to support the youth to make better income from agriculture. One of their successful is the ‘farmer basket’.
The Thongmang organic vegetable group in Vientiane, which is a member of LFN, is composed of about 30 households. Since 2016, the group started selling their vegetables in organic markets in two public parks and in a shopping mall. However, they are not able to sell all their produce and the group also does not have sufficient labor because of the absence of the youth.
The LFN supported the group to expand their production to about 20 youth (12-19 years old) from the same village. The vegetables from the youth group are sold through their regular markets and a new mechanism called ‘farmer basket’ which allows the youth group to sell their vegetable produce directly to the consumers.
“A box of vegetables includes six kinds of vegetables and one fruit—all grade A organic products from our garden. The vegetables differ every week,” Ae, a 14-year old member of the youth group, explained. A box of vegetables costs around $7.
According to Ae, the farmers that supply vegetables are well-trained on production techniques such as harvesting. “We give them a higher price because they select the best vegetables for us,” he said. Grade A vegetables are given 15-20% increase in price.
Farmers get a profit of around $2 per box taking to account all expenses—buying the vegetables, the box and transportation. Thirty percent of the sales is added to the savings fund, while the other 70% goes to the marketing team who purchases vegetables from the members, packs these into boxes, delivers the boxes, and also does the advertising.
After two months of pilot testing, a total of 20 boxes have been delivered. “We hope that we will reach 100 boxes soon,” said Ae. Currently, the main market comes from the international and local development organizations based in Vientiane.
The youth market their baskets through face-to-face advertising and through Facebook. Interested buyers can make an order per month (with 10% discount) or per week. The box will be delivered to the buyer’s location every Wednesday.
LFN is set to provide more training on production and post-harvest techniques as well as marketing for the group.
You may visit the Farmer’s Basket on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/farmerbasketLFN/.