LUANG PRABANG, Lao PDR – On February 14th, 2019 representatives from the U.S. charitable organization Spirit of America and the U.S. Embassy officially handed over more than $10,000 in equipment and support to the Laos Buffalo Dairy in Luang Prabang.
The Laos Buffalo Dairy is an American co-owned business in Luang Prabang that rents buffalos from local farmers in exchange for buffalo milk. The buffalo milk is then made into dairy products like cheese, yoghurt and ice cream and distributed on the local market. The company is setting up a supply chain to distribute its products to restaurants in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, and has recently received orders from Asian countries like Japan.
Opened in 2016, the dairy is increasing its dairy production to satisfy a growing local and international demand, while also contributing to the health and well-being of the local economy. Farmers who rent their buffalo for up to six months get a stable income, which helps pay for household expenses like schooling and food. While in the dairy’s care the buffalo get vaccinated, which greatly decreases calf mortality rates and significantly improves the long-term health of the livestock.
U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter witnessed the handover and participated in a baci ceremony to commemorate the event. “The Laos Buffalo Dairy is a great example of how American companies work overseas and promote a socially responsible business model. And with this business, everybody wins – the farmers get an income, the buffalo get vaccines, and consumers like me get delicious cheese and ice cream.”
In addition to producing dairy products, the company is also training students from the Northern Agricultural College veterinary skills, and introducing Lao communities to the benefits of protein-rich dairy to the local diet. With 100 buffalo plus calves in the dairy, daily production is increasing, which has created almost 50 new jobs for the local labor market.
Susie Martin, CEO at Laos Buffalo Dairy welcomes the support as a way to help her open her business to new markets in Laos and beyond. “We’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received from Spirit of America and the U.S. Embassy. The additional equipment will allow us to process larger quantities of milk to meet demand in new markets in Laos, plus open up export opportunities. It also allows us to rent more buffalo from local communities.”
Terrell Chandler, Project Manager at Spirit of America, says supporting the Laos Buffalo Dairy is the charity’s way to highlight core American values of entrepreneurialism, progress and opportunity for a better life. “Spirit of America is excited to collaborate with the US Embassy and Laos Buffalo Dairy to support the positive impact the Dairy makes on the local economy and communities. We view it as a great way to help reinforce the strength of the friendship between our two countries.”
Spirt of America is a U.S. charitable organization whose mission is to provide humanitarian and economic assistance, as well as equipment in support of US missions and deployed United States personnel around the world. Spirit of America is currently supporting more than 800 projects across 63 countries worldwide.