The Laos Buffalo Diary is an exciting socially-responsible business established in 2016 consisting of a commercial dairy and production facility. The first in Laos! They make products such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream for local and overseas customers.
The hunger for cheese
In 2014 two families travelled to Sri Lanka and loved the Buffalo curd available so when they arrived in Laos on holiday in 2014, they were surprised that in a country also full of buffalo, a dairy industry was non-existent. So ready for a change in lifestyle, after a min mid-life crisis, they decided to move to Laos and set up a Buffalo dairy farm.
Sustainability is key
The venture is not only exciting but has a big social enterprise element. The dairy cooperates with local villages by renting their buffalo, which provides the families with a regular income stream from an underutilized resource (female buffalo). It wasn’t an easy road. “It took us 18 months before the farmers trusted we weren’t going to barbecue or sterilize their buffalo,” Susie explains. A buffalo is worth an average annual salary so there was some hesitation in the beginning, however, with local farmers now receiving a new source of revenue (approximately $45,000 USD per annum) these is now a strong sense of trust with the foreign farm operators. The farm creates jobs for approx 30 people as well.
The farm is expanding. Approximately 200 buffalo, will be rented from villages, milked daily for about 6 months and then returned to the village until they are ready to calve again and the process starts over again.
The farm and world-class kitchen
They have built a magnificent facility for milking the buffalo and keeping them well fed, healthy and safe. The Buffaloes are fed, vaccinated, and very well cared for, including their calves. The villagers retain ownership of the buffalo at all times. The farm is run to high standards with quarantine facilities in place and protective measures to guard against disease.
They have set up a high-quality cyclical kitchen to compartmentalize each stage of the production and trained local staff to make the cheese and other milk products such as yogurt, ice cream and cakes.
Teaching English to staff
Volunteer teachers provide English lessons to staff 3 days a week. Lao Buffalo Dairy also works with the Northern Agriculture & Forestry College providing workshops in areas such as artificial insemination and animal husbandry to agriculture students.
The entire farm is organic. Rice straw is used in the buffalo pens to keep flies down, making managing the enormous amount of manure much easier and this also provides a rich organic fertilizer which is used on the farm and also sold.
In 2017 a mini-farm was established, where tourists can come and experience the farm. Tourists can interact with buffalo, pigs, rabbits,collect eggs from Laos’s ritziest chicken coop, and sample cheeses and other delicious produce in the new cafe.
Tiger Trail Travel operates a 1-day tour that incorporates a visit to the Lao Buffalo Dairy as well as a Hmong village 1.5 hours out of Luang Prabang and the famous Kuangsi Waterfall.
See http://www.laosbuffalodairy.com for more information.