Organization:Department of Trade Promotion,
Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Laos
Name:Viengsombath Bangonesengdet (Mr.)
Name of the program:Strengthening the Export Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Coffee Producers
Program period:12th September-15th October 2016
Mr. Viengsombath Bangonesengdet participated in JICA program on "Strengthening the Export Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Coffee Producers" and he is working energetically after return. He sent us a report on reviewing his "Japan" experience and present activities, so here is his report.
bout Me and Program
For me,life can be defined as an opportunity to explore and experience new things. Learning is a never ending process.
The best ways to learn are reading, talking with people who have new different perspective mindset and learning from practicing. During my free time,I really enjoy playing various kind of sport, reading, writing, and learning new foreign languages and culture.
I was so fortunate to be a part of this program. Since I was assigned to work on Lao coffee sector development in 2013, my focus has been on promoting Lao coffee to the world market. Increasing export of Lao coffee will bring positive consequence to Lao small coffee producers. Japanese coffee market is one top destination for Lao coffee. In terms of value, Japan has remained the number 1 destination of our coffee export for years.
This program introduces valuable lessons on the characteristics of Japanese coffee market, rules, regulation, various coffee market segments and consumers'expectation on coffee producers. Quality and safety of coffee is one of the most important issues. I also learnt that there is a need to improve Lao quality coffee and promote uniqueness of Lao coffee in Japanese market.
I also had a chance to serve coffee directly to Japanese consumers in Hankyu
Department Store, Osaka. That was one best new experience and I could see Japanese curiosity in finding new taste. I have been drinking coffee for almost decade but I have never paid much attention to the taste and other characteristics of coffee as Japanese people. Japanese coffee consumers know what they want. Therefore, Laos should be more careful of each production process in order to offer coffee of new uniqueness for Japanese consumer.
During 5 weeks of the program, I met many people of the organizations that are in charge of Japanese coffee business. Their knowledge, experiences and advices during formal and informal discussion gave me better understanding on Japanese consumers. Various information and materials that the program introduced led me conclude that "in order to be successful in Japanese market, producing countries need to follow the market rule, provide right quality coffee with competitive price to right market segment, remain good quality and try to create new offer."
Applying the program materials to my work is challenging. Because Laos is a landlocked country, the cost of transportation is one big barrier. Quality and unique of coffee needs to be more focused in order to remain competitive in Japanese market in the years to come. For that purpose, now I am working on forming a group of farmers who are willing to produce and export high quality specialty coffee. There are about 1400 farm families in 58 villages on the Bolaven Plate which is a main production area of coffee in Laos. Those families have good knowledge and experience in producing basic quality coffee. I would like to initiate a campaign, "The first 60 kg Lao specialty coffee to the world market". I do hope that the first high quality specialty coffee from Laos will be filled into the cup of Japanese consumers by 2020.
I will finish this report by saying, "I realize that all lecturers and JICA staffs gave me excellent friendship and taught me valuable lessons on how to get fish by our own".
I will never forget my time that I learnt from this program in Kobe, Japan. Arigatogozaimashita.
Vien san used to tell me that he is hoping Laos to become an innovative and creative nation as Japan. He is willing to promote Lao coffee among coffee lovers in Japan and he has been stressing the need to improve quality of Lao coffee for farmers. He is also involved in branding of rice and vegetables, so it won't be long until not only coffee but also other farm products from Laos appear in Japanese market.
YOKOTANI Kimie, Training Management Div. / Program Div. 2, JICA Kansai