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Ministry of Agriculture approves $2.5 million cocoa crop expansion
25 | 09 | 2007
The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry has approved a VND40 billion (about US$2.5 million) expansion of Viet Nam’s cocoa crop.

And the Viet Nam Farmers’ Association will guarantee non-interest State-loans for farmers who undertake the project.

Twenty seven of Viet Nam’s provinces are thought suitable for high-quality cocoa but it is grown on 45,000ha in only nine at between 1.5 tonnes and 2 tonnes per ha.

That figure is now expected to increase to 60,000ha at an average of 1.5 tonnes per ha by 2015.

Projected yearly export revenue is put at $50-60 million.

Capital for the project is expected to come from the State budget, agencies, international organisations and individuals.

Priority will be given to the development of hybrid seeds for standard cocoa cultivation through intensive farming.

Deputy Agriculture and Development Minister Diep Kinh Tan has instructed the Cultivation Department to co-ordinate the writing of the cocoa development plan to include processing technology.

"The State will create the conditions for localities, organisations and individuals to produce high-quality cocoa seedlings," he says.

The provinces will provide investment capital to build irrigation and transport systems.

The ministry’s Agriculture Extension Centre director Tong Khiem says it planned to grow cocoa in 14 provinces of the Tay Nguyen (the Central Highlands) as well as the south-east and central-south, especially Binh Phuoc, Ben Tre, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Dinh provinces.

"We will increase investment in seedling research," he says.

Potential farmers will be taught without fee and irrigation services will be provided free.

The director says agencies to buy cocoa have been established in Ben Tre and Dac Lac provinces where the crop is now grown and traders are satisfied with the quality.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry has started a cocoa seedling programme with the focus on choosing and hybridising sufficient high-quality seed for farmers.

The Tay Nguyen Agriculture and Forestry Technology Institute has built a system of gardens to produce the hybrid seedlings on 7.5ha. The ministry’s Cultivation Department director, Nguyen Chi Ngoc, says Viet Nam planted about 7,000ha of cocoa with support from the United States Success Alliance Programme between 2003-04.

The Measures and Standard Centre had helped build the national standard for cocoa.

But cocoa farmers face many difficulties including a shortage of quality seedlings.

Some poor-quality seed has been used and cocoa growers have not attracted as many commercial partners as growers of other commercial crops.

But cocoa requires less capital than other cash crops and could be harvested earlier.

Supply does not match global demand because some key African countries are unstable.

Source: VNS
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