Circuit’s “Opium Dream”

Since 2015 Circuit has been aspiring to be a small part of solving the drugs problem in Shan State. Having talked with various parties and conducted a feasibility study Circuit is getting ready to launch our plan in 2020.

Considerable resource has been expended in Myanmar by international organisations with resources way larger than our own. These groups especiallyWinrockhave helped to build the skill base for producing and processing coffee in the country as well as building the market. This has enabled Myanmar coffee to become one of the world’s “darlings” in terms of specialty coffee. It has really hit the world stage with fanfare!

The coffee growing business is expensive to get involved in, tricky to manage and we have the added disadvantage of having to operate in Shan State’s restricted “black areas” which is where most of the problem is. We have been trying to navigate this with care.

The recent acquisition of two acres of land has changed all this for us. While our land is not at an elevation high enough to produce good coffee, it is in a perfect place to allow us to freely organise training for people from these “difficult-to-reach” areas. It is alsothe ideal location and climate for growing coffee seedlings.

Coffee seedlings need to be grown just the right way to produce good trees. In particular the tree has a tap root that must grow directly downwards. Our team in Shan state is positioned and trained very well to produce these.Once grown, these seedlings will be trucked into the areas wanting to build a coffee business. These trees will be planted in the locations selected by local communities and trained/guided by our network of organisations. We anticipate that these trees will be planted in existing forests to produce organic shade grown coffee which will achieve high prices. 

It is these high prices which ultimately will allow communities to wean off the need for growing opium. Circuit also has some other activities in place in which are helping to build the coffee market, and we hope that the communities we are working in will be able to sell their coffee into the market we are trying to foster. It takes three years for a new coffee tree to produce fruit, but you never know, we dream that one day seedlings that we produce this year in Myanmar will produce coffee that we end up drinking in NZ.

Circuit and our local partners have identified four different geographical areas where coffee seedlings will be sent.Each tree we send slowly builds the capacity of the region to make a living from coffee rather than opium. We like to call this our “Opium Dream”. To donate to this programme, click below