Farmers in Vilabouly District, Savannakhet Province, will soon be growing Mundubbera citrus trees from Australia.
MMG LXML Sepon has introduced Ironbark’s expertise to provide technical support on growing citrus trees to Lao farmers.
Ironbark Citrus has exported fruit to South-East Asia for many years.
Getting Ironbark citrus into Vilabouly was a team effort between LXML and an Australian NGO ‘Business for Millennium Development’ (B4MD).
GM of Sepon Rick Watsford said the partnership demonstrates MMG LXML's longstanding commitment to community development.
"We are introducing high value agricultural crops and improving rice yields to boost incomes in communities close to the mine," he said.
Ironbark has planted 20,000 citrus seeds for Lao farmers to plant on their own land.
Lao farmers will take out loans from a community bank to buy seedlings, while Ironbark will be guarantors, supply horticultural services, run the nursery and do the marketing.
The long-term goal however is for the project to be completely managed by the community. This involves securing a commitment and investment from the villagers.
While the project is still in its early stages, Ironbark hopes it will establish a model that can be transferred to other countries to kick-start citrus industries.