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Organic fertiliser gives coffee some zing
17 | 07 | 2007
After stumbling upon a new kind of fertiliser that works particularly well with coffee plants, farmers from Nam Ha Commune in Tay Nguyen (the Central Highlands) province of Lam Dong are trying to popularise their find.

The craze began in 2005 when Dao Van Hoa learned about a shop that was selling Vedagro organic fertiliser on credit in Nam Ha. The fertiliser is made from cassava and by products of the sugar processing industry.

With helpful tips from the vendor, Hoa applied the organic fertiliser to his sick and dying coffee garden. In a few short weeks, green returned to the leaves and the plants began to flourish. After harvesting a large crop of high-quality coffee beans, Hoa was easily able to pay back the VND5 million it costs to buy the Vedagro.

Trial and error

"When we first used Vedagro on coffee plants at Lam Ha, most of the leaves turned yellow," said Tran Dinh Hoc, the first farmer to use the organic fertiliser in the region.

He figured out quickly that it was unwise to apply Vedagro directly to the coffee plants. Instead, mixing it with a little bit of phosphate and spraying the ground around the plants proved quite effective.

To perfect the process, Hoc spent VND75,000 on a suction pump that connects to the fertiliser spray nozzle so he could accurately control the mixture.

After a number of successful crops, he asked Lam Tri Tai, a resident of the same commune, for help in getting permission to open a shop and sell the fertiliser on credit.

In the process of setting up shop, the two men spent hundreds of million dong to buy the fertiliser, racking up deficits of VND700 million in 2006. After successful harvests, farmers in Nam Ha were able to quickly pay off their debts.

For each crop, Vedagro must be sprayed three or four times and the cost per hectare is about VND7.5-8 million, one fourth the cost of chemical fertilisers.

Moreover, Vedagro also acts as a herbicide, eliminating the need for expensive grass killers.

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