Many farmers in Laos struggle to grow enough maize or cassava to feed their families. Growing citrus can provide farmers with a basis to sustainably exit poverty, netting a tenfold increase in incomes over traditional crops. Ironbark Citrus has established an inclusive business in Laos building a local citrus industry in the process. The business supplies trees to farmers, provides training and horticultural services, creates pathways for the provision of microfinance and packs and markets citrus to regional markets. Experts in citrus production, Ironbark Citrus have a history of supplying citrus fruits to Southeast Asia. The Laos division of the business will enable the company to provide these markets with a counter-seasonal supply of citrus to supplement their exports from Australia. Designed to generate strong social outcomes, local farmers have the opportunities to grow a new crop that will deliver transformed incomes for their families. The initiative has been made possible by MMG LXML Sepon as it works to create a sustainable future for farmers in close proximity to its mining operations.
The company has been registered, a nursery has been built and local management employed. To date 8,000 root stock have been planted in the nursery and 1,200 citrus trees planted in the ground with pilot farmers. The project will reach scale in 2019.