A Midlife Crisis with a Purpose
In the picturesque UNESCO-listed town of Luang Prabang, Laos, an Australian couple embarked on an unexpected journey. Susie Martin, an Australian CEO, and her husband, Steven McWhirter, originally came to Laos to run a guest house for a year. Little did they know that their pursuit of buffalo milk for yogurt would lead to the creation of Laos Buffalo Dairy.
Revolutionizing Buffalo Farming
Laos Buffalo Dairy marked a significant shift in the dairy industry in Laos. Traditional buffalo farming had been in decline, with farmers selling their animals due to the increasing use of tractors. As a result, inbreeding led to less fertile and less healthy buffalo breeds. The dairy’s innovative breeding program aimed to tackle this issue by introducing healthier offspring back into the villages.
Introducing this unique concept to local farmers wasn’t easy. Initially, farmers were skeptical, thinking it was too good to be true. However, the dairy’s commitment to vaccinating, feeding, and caring for the buffalo, and returning them with better genetics, gradually won them over. Today, the dairy has 85 buffalo and plans to expand to 150 by 2024.
From Farm to Table: Cheese and Ice Cream Delights
Utilizing buffalo milk, the dairy created an array of rare, delectable products, including cheeses like mozzarella, bocconcini, ricotta, blue cheese, and yogurt. They plan to add brie, parmesan, cheddar, and even goat cheese to their offerings. Visitors to Luang Prabang can savor these culinary delights and join guided tours. The future holds promises of wine and cheese tours.
Impact Beyond Buffalo
Beyond buffalo farming, the Laos Buffalo Dairy team has extended their efforts to animal husbandry, aiding local farmers with more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Additionally, their focus on malnutrition addresses a pressing issue in Laos, offering valuable nutrition through buffalo milk to local children.
Sustainability and Social Responsibility
The dairy’s commitment to being environmentally friendly sets a positive example. By opting for local buffalo over imported cows and renting animals raised in villages, they’ve made a conscious choice to reduce their ecological footprint.
In conclusion, the journey of Susie Martin and Steven McWhirter, from a midlife crisis to creating Laos Buffalo Dairy, has been a remarkable one. They’ve not only transformed buffalo farming but also impacted the lives of local communities. With a commitment to sustainability, innovation, and social responsibility, their story is an inspiration.