Coffee production is a great source of income for the people of Laos, however, it could be having an adverse effect on their health.
Approximately 90% of the Laos’ coffee bean crop is produced in Paksong and Thatheng. The production is largely run by small family owned businesses that rely on coffee production as their only source of income. Coffee is greatly relied on the region which continues to depend on foreign aid.
The untreated waste from the coffee production process is polluting the water on the Bolaven Plateau. In order to produce clean green beans, the Arabica coffee wet-processing method creates a great deal of waste water. This waste water has a high sugar content, depleted value of biological oxygen demand and dissolved oxygen.
The Bolaven Plateau is an elevated region of southern Laos. Located between the Annamite Mountains and the Mekong River, the Bolaven Plateau is an altitude of around 1,350 metres. The plateau is perfect for coffee production with over a consistently moderate amount of rainfall as well as incredibly fertile soil.
Without the necessary waste management, damages to aquatic eco-systems and polluted water sources have occurred. This could have a negative effect to the health of nearby communities.
After extensive environmental research on the impact of coffee production, the WWF have been raising awareness of the issues and subsequently raised funding in order to propose an initiative which may begin to reduce the environmental effects of coffee production in Laos.
The WWF have made a statement on the matter:“The overall objective of the initiative is to enhance the sustainability of water use in the coffee industry on the Bolaven Plateau… A multi-stakeholder engagement strategy for WWF-Laos and Oxfam on issues of water and coffee in Paksong will be developed. Both organisations can then contribute to the Paksong river system protection strategy of the Champassak Provincial Office of Natural Resources and Environment. Both WWF-Laos and Oxfam aim to be recognised by the latter as a key partner to promoting better water protection law enforcement. By project end a multi-stakeholder engagement strategy on issues of water, coffee and gender should be available as to pursue further funding opportunities.”