The emergence of wealthy farmers in the coffee-planting area of southern Laos

Minoo Arihiro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper studies the emergence of wealthy people in the farming area of Lao PDR through an analysis of their livelihood strategies. Barbara Grandin's wealth ranking is used to define the criteria of wealth. After the Lao government adopted a market-oriented economy, a monetary system was extended to the Lao plateau and mountain villages, which used to run on self-sufficient farming. As a result, cash income has become indispensable for everyday consumption. Previous studies on the introduction of a monetary economy in the mountain areas of Lao PDR have focused on economic inequality. Some studies pointed out the factors that led to the emergence of wealthy people in these areas, such as the brokerage of non-timber products and the introduction of cash crops. Other studies examined the flow of money, which is brought into the villages by people living outside, such as migrant workers and refugees. This case study of Boloven plateau in southern Lao PDR suggests that these factors are not the primary reasons for the emergence of wealthy people in this area. It can be attributed instead to farmers' experimentation with new varieties of cash crops and organic fertilizers, as well as new forms of trade with foreign importers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-325
Number of pages29
JournalJapanese Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 31
Externally publishedYes


  • Cash crop
  • Lao PDR
  • Livelihood strategies
  • Wealthy people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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