Enhancing livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Laos

This partnership generates sustainable livelihoods and improved financial security for smallholder farming families in Laos through improved marketability of cattle and buffalo.

Farmers in Laos currently have limited access to nutritional supplement products and inefficiently administer vital animal medication. Livestock health will improve through greater access to supplements that deliver superior nutritional performance and internal parasite control, resulting in higher meat yields.

DFAT provide critical co-investment and advocacy support for the development of the livestock agriculture in Laos, including accessing local and regional agricultural and business expertise.

Location of partnership

Partnership aims

  • Test the efficacy of a range of nutrient and parasite control blocks – known as Medicated Urea Molasses Blocks (MUMBs).
  • Address animal health constraints through introducing nutrient blocks and MUMBs to the local market, creating a new, highly effective method to control parasites, and maintain dry season animal health and nutrition.
  • Assess the feasibility of establishing a local livestock feed supplement manufacturing facility.
  • Improve rural livelihoods and rural community resilience through increased incomes and income producing opportunities.
  • Enhance yields and marketability of smallholder red meat products.

Key facts




Gender equality

This initiative promotes gender equality by:

  • Promoting women’s economic empowerment through increased incomes from cattle raising.
  • Enhancing women’s voice in decision making as income from cattle raising increases.

Cattle raising is a traditionally male occupation. However, as men seek work elsewhere, women are increasingly responsible for this work with women directly involved with raising cattle in 20 per cent of households. Increased participation and income from cattle raising has the potential to enhance women’s status in the family and in financial decision-making. Nutrient blocks also allow women to remain close to home, as cattle come home by themselves from grazing at the end of each day in order to feed on the blocks.

Shared value

This partnership creates shared value by:

  • reconceiving products and markets
  • redefining productivity in the value chain
  • enabling local cluster development.

While MUMBs already support livestock production in around 60 tropical countries, they are not currently available in Laos and neighbouring countries. The potential market for MUMBs in these countries is therefore significant. 4 Season Company will build its business by firstly testing new products in the field, selling MUMBs to cattle farmers, and assessing the feasibility of manufacturing MUMBs locally.

This partnership aims to benefit around 10,000 cattle and buffalo farming households by increasing productivity as a result of improved nutrition and reduced disease (reduced calf mortality, reduced adult morbidity, and improved weight gain), with the potential to increase farmer incomes by up to 25 per cent.

What is shared value?

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue. The BPP is helping businesses partner with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development

Partner information

4 Season Company Pty Ltd

4 Season Company Pty Ltd has supplied animal nutrition products to rural Australia since 1997. The company is continuously looking at increasing efficiency in medication administration methods and to develop new and improved products. They collaborate closely with scientists in Australia and elsewhere to identify and address pasture nutrient deficiencies, particularly for tropical beef production. 4 Season has provided support to date for early feasibility trials for this initiative, donating a number of MUMBs, and assisting with transportation costs, to enable preliminary trials for potential adaptation of this technology in Laos.

4 Season Company logo  

University of Sydney

The Faculty of Veterinary Science from the University of Sydney has conducted applied research in Laos and Cambodia for ten years, identifying animal health constraints as a key contributing factor in limiting the livelihoods of cattle and buffalo smallholder farmers. This research has identified MUMBs as having the most transformational potential for this industry. The University of Sydney oversee testing of the efficacy of different MUMBs and support 4 Season in the development of the business model.

The University of Sydney logo  

Department of Livestock and Fisheries

The Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR, is a government agency responsible for the protection, promotion, and sustainable production, use and management of livestock and aquaculture resources in Laos. DLF has collaborated with the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science on its cattle health and production projects in Laos for 10 years. The DLF has responsibility for delivering health and productivity extension services throughout Laos, which can include MUMBs. They will also work closely with smallholder farmers and cattle traders to collect necessary data to evaluate performance of the technology.


Last Updated: 23 October 2017