IWTA speaks with Rachel O’Shea and Susie Martin – founders of Laos Buffalo Dairy
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Meet Rachel O’Shea and Susie Martin – founders of Laos Buffalo Dairy
Tourism and hospitality is not only about hotels, airlines and travel agents – it is about the myriad of small businesses that support the industry, adding to the variety and local colour in each destination. Rachel O’Shea and Susie Martin, founders of the Laos Buffalo Dairy, are examples of just that.
Singapore to Laos
Rachel & Susie met in Singapore, and describe their journey to Laos as a ‘mid-life crisis’. Together with their families, they wanted to do something ‘different’ for a year or two, and were initially thinking of a B&B, then perhaps buying a small hotel. They did start with the B&B, and the Chef in Rachel wanted to provide guests with something a little different – something like Buffalo Cheese.
This was, however, not something that could be found in Laos, and in fact dairy products were not widely consumed at all. Doing a little more research, Rachel & Susie realised that the buffalo in the country were raised for meat, and nothing else…. And so the journey began!
Today, the Laos Buffalo Dairy is a socially responsible, sustainable farm, and social enterprise, aiming to improve rural prosperity, welfare, nutrition, and the health of the local population, with a focus on buffalo farming, and childhood nutrition. These goals are achieved by improving local agriculture through better genetics, increased vaccinations, animal husbandry, veterinary care, and a nutrition programme aimed at reducing the 44 percent malnutrition rate in Laos, at the same time as providing local hotels with a variety of different cheeses and ice cream, visits to a working buffalo farm as part of sightseeing tours for tourists, and generally improving the lives of the local population!
Mid-life crisis with a passion for purpose rather than a Porsche!
Development of feed blocks to supply to the farmers to reduce methane gasses produced by the buffalo! Export of products to Japan, and beyond. Possibly establishing similar farms in other countries – once all the mistakes have been made and learned from in Laos!
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