Vietnam should develop specialty coffee: Experts
Local coffee farmers and enterprises should produce specialty coffee with higher added value to help local farmers earn better profits, the local media reported, citing attendees at a seminar held in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak on March 10.
At the seminar jointly held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Vietnam Coffee-Cocoa Association and the Dak Lak government, coffee processors, researchers and scientists discussed the definition, standards and benefits of specialty coffee, as well as ways to expand markets for specialty coffee products.
Trinh Duc Minh, chairman of the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association, said Vietnam has high potential to produce specialty coffee. Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Lam Dong and Son La provinces have good weather and soil conditions to grow specialty coffee trees.
The country currently has 50 households and companies growing and processing specialty coffee with a total volume of 200 tons a year. Several enterprises have developed modern labs to test the quality of the products and provide training courses to local laborers.
Minh proposed adding specialty coffee to the list of national products, offering preferential policies for farmers and processors, enhancing promotion programs and seeking new markets for the products.
The Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association will formulate documents to guide the farming and production of specialty coffee and build links between farmers and processing firms, Minh added.
Speaking at the seminar, Nguyen Hoai Duong, director of the Dak Lak Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said local farmers have produced organic coffee, which is used for processing specialty coffee.
Dak Lak Vice Chairman Y Giang Gry Nie Knong said coffee is the key farm produce of the province. The province will focus on increasing the output and quality of the product rather than the farming area in a bid to meet the demand for export.
Specifically, Dak Lak will prioritize loans for households and enterprises producing specialty coffee and encourage them to apply technologies in production.
Meanwhile, Pham S, vice chairman of the Lam Dong government, said that the province has 177,000 hectares under coffee farming. Di Linh and Lam Ha districts of the province have been chosen to farm specialty coffee trees.
Lam Dong has employed advanced technologies in specialty coffee production and processing and repeatedly expanded consumption markets for the product.
According to Dr. Manuel Diaz. P, a coffee consultant from Mexico, Vietnam is the second largest exporter of Robusta coffee but the value of its products remains low. Therefore, the country should improve the quality of coffee by setting stricter product standards.
Specialty coffee is popular in many countries but is still new in Vietnam, so the local agencies should promote the product in the local market first and later to the global market, Diaz added.
Speaking at the seminar, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh spoke highly of the suggestions of experts, affirming that the ministry would assist localities and enterprises to build plans to develop the specialty coffee production in Vietnam.
However, the production of specialty coffee in Vietnam has faced multiple difficulties, particularly high costs. In addition, the product is yet to gain popularity in the local market.
According to the Department of Farm Produce Processing and Market Development, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam is now home to some 664,000 hectares of coffee trees with combined output of more than 1.5 million tons. The five Central Highlands provinces make up 89.6% of the total area of coffee trees with 577,000 hectares.
Vietnamese coffee products have been exported to 80 countries and territories, generating revenue of over US$3 billion. The country accounts for 14% of the global coffee market and 10.4% of the world’s coffee export value.
Nevertheless, the average export turnover growth is only 6.57% and the added value of Vietnamese coffee products remains low.