It all started innocently enough, a visit to the Northern Agriculture & Forestry College about 45 mins north of Luang Prabang to discuss partnering with the College for research & training purposes with their students. For an Agricultural College surely 200 buffalo being used for the 1 st dairy in Laos must be of interest!
Sure enough there was a great deal of interest, in fact the College currently has buffalo on one of its many farms and they were quite keen to discuss moving them to our farm so they could have a larger herd size to study.
Then we started to learn more about the College and the types of programmes they offered, in particular;
- Agronomy – soil management and crop production
- Livestock & Fishery – animal husbandry, breeding and vet science
- Food Production – micro finance, marketing & agricultural products processing
And that in a few days’ time there would be graduation for those students who had finished the 3 year courses.
Would we be interested in attending the College Job Day so students could learn more about Laos Buffalo Dairy and perhaps we could find graduates interested to work with us?
Considering we have 20 hectares of land to grow grass for buffalo, 200 buffalo due to arrive by November and a kitchen being built to produce delicious cheese and yogurt, students who had respectively studied; agrimony, livestock and food production seem to fit the bill perfectly!
Of course we would love to attend, what did we need to prepare? Nothing to complex just; a sign up sheet for students – buy clipboards & don’t forget pens, power point presentation in Laos, projector (find projector), some of our delicious food – yogurt & cheesecake, necessary serving implements…
Then the question “how many students would be attending?” A few hundred, oh ok 1 cheesecake may not be enough – quick call to the chef who was actually flying to HK the next day – “please make a few more cheesecake”, Chef -“How Many” oh just a few hundred mini- cheesecakes! Chef – “insert expletive here” and as pushing my luck anyway, “please make a strawberry compote to accompany the yogurt”. Chef – well I’m sure you can guess what goes here!
Food now taken care of we run around in the two remaining days to put together the rest of our list. Day dawns and I literally mean up at crack of dawn. Coolers for the 12 litres of yogurt, compote and cheesecake, tablecloths, plates, spoons, power boards, back up computers, your basic pack mule scenario! Then off on the 45 min tuk tuk ride, stop for ice, warm yogurt not quite so delicious!
Arrive to find we have prime spot opposite the stage and graduate presentation area. Set everything up and then realise it’s too bright so impossible to see the presentation. Unpack table again move to another spot in the back row and re-set table up. At least we know where everything goes – go 10 rounds with the borrowed projector which belongs to our French friends – practice my school girl French with technical equipment – Yeah…
Then the fun began, students started arriving from their dormitories en masse, a sea of white and orange (teachers & administrators) shirts swelled towards the booths and us. Food always a draw, we have wave after wave of students keen to learn about this strange new business in Luang Prabang and try some new foreign food. Yogurt and cheesecake not featuring high in the Laos diet! The sweeter cheesecake went down a treat although there were a few grimaces for first time natural yogurt eaters, at which point we added some strawberry compote and the grimaces generally turned to smiles. It’s now only 10.00am and we start to run out of mini-bowls, Link goes for a quick jog to a little shop 10 mins away to buy more.
We even manage a few interviews with prospective employees one of whom, Bee goes on to receive an award later in the day and is now working for Laos Buffalo Dairy! We now have 2 graduates Bee & Khamlee working with us at Laos Buffalo Dairy and more soon to join.
As lunch begins we hand out our last cheesecake and 12 litres of yogurt have been consumed, questions about Laos Buffalo Dairy answered and a significant list of job seekers names collected! Thanks to the College and Dr. Outhai for all their help and support in what will hopefully be the 1 st of many career days Laos Buffalo Dairy attends.
So that was the morning, now off to our farm 90 mins away for a government meeting we found out about yesterday but that’s the next blog post...