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Cacao, the next big cash crop?
13 | 07 | 2007
VietNamNet Bridge – If Vietnam’s agricultural leaders play their cards right, cacao trees could become one of the country’s major export earners, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
While many southern provinces provide climate and landscape conducive to cacao cultivation alongside low labour costs, deputy director of the MoARD Cultivation Department Nguyen Van Hoa said that cacao producers and exporters should take advantage of a current supply shortage on the global cacao market.

Hoa was speaking at a seminar on Saturday in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Ben Tre.

"Because of high demand, global cacao prices are rising while the capital required to produce cacao is only moderate," he said.

According to the US-based ACDI/VOCA (Expanding Opportunities Worldwide), global importers demand an estimated 3mil tonnes of cacao per year. The number is expected to increase 2-4% annually, an additional 60,000 and 120,000 tonnes per year, in the near future.

The MoARD aims to nearly triple the amount of land used to cultivate cacao trees and harvest about 10,000 tonnes of dried cacao by 2010, according to Hoa.

He added that the industry would focus on developing ecologically sound cacao plantations.

The sector would also organise more processing training for cacao farmers and build modern processing facilities in specialised cacao cultivation areas, he said.

To encourage investment in the sector, incentives like soft-interest bank loans and land rental will be offered to both foreign and domestic businesses interested in purchasing and processing cacao products.

To achieve industry goals, Hoa added that the Viet Nam Coffee-Cacao Association and Viet Nam Agriculture Extension Centre would have to improve their effectiveness and efficiency on all levels and provide updated market information to farmers.

In 2005, the Government initiated a cacao tree development project called "Success Alliance" in co-operation with many other international and domestic organisations.

Partners included ACDI/VOCA with its Vietnamese and foreign associates like Masterfoods, the World Cacao Federation (WCF), the US Assistance International Development (USAID) and Vietnam's National Agriculture Extension Centre, the Agriculture and Forestry University and local agricultural services.

The project has provided capital, young plants and farming techniques to cacao farmers. With the programme's support, farmers have been able to develop high-value and sustainable crops.

To date, the project has distributed nearly 3mil young plants and opened training courses for 17,000 farmers in the four most cacao-heavy provinces, namely Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Phuoc.

Nguyen Luu Vuong, vice president of the Binh Da Commune farmers association in the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, said, "never have we received so much financial and technical support as we have received for our cacao cultivation projects."

"Cacao farmers have be assisted in every stage of development from creating hybrids, to farming techniques, to processing and consumption," Vuong said.

Many farmers at the seminar however said that infestation and difficulties with the challenging semi-processing processes had damaged their cacao beans.

The struggling farmers asked organisations to help them remove these obstacles.

Vuong said "semi-processing determines the quality of finished cacao product, but many farmers don't have the skills necessary to complete the process properly. This has resulted in varying quality of Vietnamese cacao products and several farmers have taken losses due to low sale prices for their lower quality products

Nguồn tin: Vietnamnet.vn
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