Mushroom farming opens new opportunities
Net lives in Horkong Village in southern Laos and at a very young age she stopped going to school because she had to help her family make a living on their cassava farm. By working on a neighboring cassava farm, she was able to earn a small amount of money to contribute to her family, but the work was hard as she toiled in the sun for hours.
In May 2021, Village Focus International (VFI), a local non-profit organization in Laos, started the project “Forest-Friendly Livelihood Training for Young Farmers” supported by the Lao Ecology Small Grants Program. The project’s aim was to increase the agriculture skills and knowledge of young farmers and therefore provide opportunities for them to develop sustainable sources of income.
VFI began by holding an introductory meeting at Net’s village to discuss the project and identify young farmers to participate. Net was particularly interested in organic mushroom production, which are popular in the local markets, and she was delighted to be selected to participate in the project training courses. She learned about mushroom farming techniques and business start-up planning. The seeds of a young entrepreneur farmer were planted.
After the training, Net received material support from the Green Earth Center, an agricultural learning center operated by VFI. In the first month, she was able to produce 242 bags of mushrooms that yielded a profit of US$40. This was a significant increase in household income for Net and her family, and she was extremely pleased with her achievements.
“I am so proud of Net,” described Net’s mother. “She has learnt new skills and is contributing more to our household income. This is much better for her than being a daily laborer in the cassava farm. Now she has more time with our family and the money she contributes is a big help. Now we want to help her expand her mushroom farm. Already this project has made a huge impact on our family, both in terms of income but also in terms of helping us see a brighter future.”