Adopting technologies and new ways to develop Vietnam’s cocoa plant

14:55 | 16/06/2016 Economy- Society

(VEN) - Developing high-technology cocoa farms as a nucleus to provide cocoa farming solutions and connect markets to small-sized farmer households; Creating premises for other enterprises to follow suit and turn Vietnam into a high quality and sustainable cocoa exporter.

Adopting technologies and new ways to develop Vietnam’s cocoa plant

Providing technical advice to cocoa growers

A totally new orientation and vision on cocoa plants is being developed by a company to exploit and take advantage of unique features of Vietnam cocoa plants.  Although in its early stage, the plan has been actively embraced and supported by the local people and authority.

Growing cocoa plants intercropping with cashew

A vision with prospects

Expert’s analysis shows that across the globe the demand for cocoa products is increasing while there won’t be sufficient supplies to meet the demand for many years to come.

With the current growth in demand for cocoa while related programs fail to increase productivity or develop new cocoa farming areas, it is expected that by 2020 the world’s cocoa supply will see a shortage of about 1 million tonnes.

Particularly, every year, Asia will still have to import about half a million tonnes of high quality fermented cocoa beans from West Africa and South America to satisfy chocolate craving in the region.

Taking care of a cocoa plant

Vietnam has many opportunities to become a major exporter of cocoa in Asia. Our advantages to developthe cocoa sector range from favorable natural conditions, stable macroeconomic policies, hardworking farmers, to largely available land for cocoa development. In addition, with supports from the Government’sprogram to increase productivity and from partners like Mars, Puratos, and Cao Nguyen Xanh ... Vietnamese cocoa farmers have reached a professional level of cocoa cultivation. In Dak Lak province, many local cocoa growers have successfully reached cocoa yields of 2-3kg dry beans per plant, which is equivalent to 2 to 3 tonnes per ha. At the current price of about VND70 million/tonne, a hectare of cocoa could generate a revenue of hundreds of millions of dong.

Hired workers graft cocoa in a nursery garden

Different thinking – Innovative practice

Seeing the prospects of Vietnam’s cocoa plant, Dinh Hai Lam, the former Cocoa Development Director of Mars Incorporated and his partners have founded Cacao Intercontinental Corporation (CIC). With over 10 year experience in the cocoa sector and having visited many cocoa growing countries, Lam realized that the world’s cocoa output will takes long time to catch up with the demand and this is a good window of opportunity for Vietnam.

In fact, Vietnam is the only country in Asia where high quality fermented cocoa beans can be produced and exported to chocolate makers. Vietnam’s cocoa products are being exported to the hardest-to-please markets such as Japan and the Republic of Korea. Unlike exporters from West Africa or South America, Vietnam,as a member of the ​​ASEAN free trade area, benefit import duties exemption for cocoa exports to ASEAN countries and especially China. Vietnam has also drawn precious experience from other cocoa exporters in order to apply latest agricultural practices.

 Cross-fertilize cocoa

In Vietnam, CIC is the first company to develop cocoa plantation model using farms as a nucleus to provide cocoa farming solutions and connect markets to small-sized farmer households. According to Lam’s analysis, with this model, farmers will have access to credits, standard seedlings, good quality input materials at reasonable prices, advanced farming techniques, and easy output for their products. As for cocoa farms, CIC will adopt the world's leading advanced technologies from selecting the optimal cocoa varieties, to installing the entire drip irrigation system combined with automatic fertilizing, and mechanized pruning.... In his opinion, with the current global intensified climate change, the battle in the future will be the battle for water. In agriculture, the cultivation of crops using less water and using water-saving irrigation system would be indispensable to achieve a sustainable development.

CIC targets to establish and own two cocoa farms in Dak Lak Province with a total area of ​​around 2,000 hectares by 2022 and expand cocoa cultivation to 10,000 households living around these farms.

Adopting technologies incocoa cultivation – farmer’s excitement

Mr. Tran Xuan Quang in Tan Tien hamlet (Ea Na commune, Krong Ana district, Dak Lak province), who has 10-year experience in growing cocoa shared that cocoa cultivationis less labor-intensive than coffee cultivation. His 3-ha cocoa farm only needs 2 laborers from his family.


Fermented cocoa beans

According to Mr Quang, previously, irrigating and fertilizing the plants were the hardest parts of his cocoa farming. He had to hose or used buckets to water each foot of the cocoa plants. However, thanks to advice and support from the Cao Nguyen Xanh Company (under CIC) in installation of drip irrigation system and fertilization through this system, things have become much more simple, resulting in up to ten times cost saving for water, fertilizers and effort. Particularly, despite the droughts in the Central Highlands region in early 2016, his cocoa fields remained lush. In 2015, the cocoa fields of his family reaped a good harvest with cocoa production reaching nearly 2.5 tonnes of dry beans per ha.

Like Tran Xuan Quang family, Ms. Ngan Thi Lam family in village 4, Ea Sar commune, Ea Kardistrict, Dak Lak also used a similar irrigation system with success. Her family grew 450 cacao plants on an area of ​​6 perches intercropping with cashew. She cheerfully said, cocoa cultivation provides much higher economic efficiency in comparison with previous cashew cultivation. In 2015, her 4,5 perch (0.45ha) cocoa field produced 1.3 tonnes of dry beans (equivalent 2,8tonnes per ha). Since the installation of drip irrigation system (November 2015), her family’s works became much more simple. It is worth mentioning that the cocoa cultivation areas of Ms. Lam's family are sandy, which require a lot of water and it is difficult to select cocoa seedlings for high yield cultivation.

Huynh Quoc Thich, Deputy Director of Dak Lak province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development affirmed that CIC’s model is very positive, and needs replications. The creation of concentrated land fund and application of modern technologies by CIC in collaboration with local farmers to establish large cocoa production areas fits totally with development trend of modern industrial crops.

Song Anh