Beneo’s rice ingredients production site in Wijgmaal, Belgium, has changed the long-term working life of more than a hundred small-scale farmers in Laos. Thanks to the provision of harvesting and threshing machinery. This investment reflects Beneo’s commitment to its stakeholders throughout the supply chain and has enabled the business to further strengthen its farm-level partnerships.
As the primary economic activity in Laos, small-scale rice farming accounts for 70% of the total cultivated area and one-fifth of the total GDP. Beneo liaised with its longstanding partner IDP, the leading producer and supplier of rice in Laos, to find out how working conditions for local farmers could be improved. As a result, eight harvesting machines and four threshers were purchased to help ease workloads and improve field yields.
Whilst Beneo retains full ownership of the equipment, the farmers have been trained on how to use and maintain it to ensure the long-standing success of the project. The machines support ten groups of 10 small-scale farmers. They help lighten the workload and speed up the harvesting process for them and their families by eradicating the need for hand cutting and manual threshing. With threshing now taking place directly on the field, this lowers the risk of loss caused by rainfall, as well as mold formation. As a result, the farmers can expect higher yields and better income. They can also earn additional money by renting out the machines to other farmers in the region, enabling many more families to benefit from Beneo’s investment.
Roland Vanhoegaerden, operations managing director, Beneo’s rice ingredients, comments, “We value our long-term relationship with our farming and logistical partners in Laos. By liaising with IDP, we could quickly see where our investment would make the most impact. As a result of supporting our farmers with new equipment, more than 100 farming families have their everyday workloads eased. Also, by offering these economic resources to rice farmers, we are helping to further work toward the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the success of this initiative, we intend to launch another project of this type in the coming year to support more rice farmers.”
Frédéric Jullien, chief executive officer, IDP, comments, “We are honored that Beneo chose IDP to work with on this project. As a company, we are focused on assisting farmers to improve their work conditions whilst maintaining rice quality. Beneo’s contribution has shown its commitment to the sustainable development of the rice value chain here in Laos.”