GEN citrus tree in the sun

Farmers in Laos could tend to their first citrus crops as early as this year, thanks to a new programme set up by an Australian husband and wife team, according to ABC Rural.

Allan and Sue Jenkin – the owners of Queensland-based Ironbark Citrus – have set up Ironbark Lao in the hope of developing a commercially viable citrus industry, run by local growers.

'They just don't have the capital, they don't have anything behind them to be able to take it to the next level,' Sue Jenkin told ABC Rural.

'That's really what we're trying to do, help farmers who are interested to take it to the next level and get above that subsistence-level farming.”

To assist with the programme, Australian rootstock has been exported to the South East Asian nation and planted in newly developed nurseries. The Jenkin’s have been working with prospective growers to plant the varieties on their farms and will help to structure sales programmes once harvest arrives. A small harvest is expected to take place later this year.

“We're trying lots of different varieties,' Sue told ABC Rural. 'We know the ones that market well because we're exporters and we export predominantly into South-East Asia.

'But we don't know so well the varieties that are going to produce well, so we've got quite a number of varieties we're experimenting with.'