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US-funded project offers blueprint to expand cocoa cultivation areas
05 | 12 | 2007
A project to improve cocoa farming with assistance from two American NGOs, which successfully expanded cocoa cultivation areas by over six times to 10,000 hectares, has wrapped up.

The Sustainable Cocoa Enterprise Solutions for Small Holders, or SUCCESS Alliance project, began three years ago in Ben Tre, Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, and Tien Giang provinces with support from Agricultural Co-operative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Co-operative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA).

Pham Van Du, deputy head of the Agricultural and Rural Development ministry’s Cultivation Department, told yesterday’s valedictory ceremony in HCM City: "The project has contributed to the development of cocoa cultivation in Viet Nam by providing training, introducing new cultivation and processing technologies, quality management, and, especially, developing a market for cocoa products."

Earlier, in 1998, the Government had sought to expand area under cocoa to 80,000 hectares in four regions — the Mekong Delta, south-eastern region, Central Highlands, and south-central coast — but failed.

SUCCESS Alliance project, sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture, has trained 277 trainers and 16,315 farmers, set up 383 cocoa clubs, supplied 3 million cocoa plants, and set up 75 model farms and 19 nurseries to provide seedlings and technologies to farmers.

ACDI/VOCA helped find consumers for the cocoa and now the quality of cocoa grown in Viet Nam is accepted globally.

It also set up a system to collect the cocoa grown in the four provinces. This is considered the key factor in ensuring continued success after the winding up of the project.

"Viet Nam is a viable cocoa producer with the potential to be a top-quality producer as all systems are in place," Ross Jaax, chief representative of SUCCESS Alliance Viet Nam, said.

"Vietnamese cocoa is being well received by the world market and quality planting material is widely available," he added.

He predicted that by 2012 Vietnamese cocoa would achieve commercial viability.

To sustain these results, the Cultivation Department suggested that the project should be expanded to other localities with greater focus on investment, planning, and technology assistance for new cocoa farmers. — VNS

 The project, which was sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture, has led to Viet Nam’s Agricultural and Rural Development ministry approving a project to develop 60,000 hectares of cocoa by 2015 and achieve exports of US$50 - 60 million.

Source: vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn
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