Many localities in the southern province of Ben Tre have stressed the need to perfect cocoa growing models in key communes as the crop proves lucrative to farmers.

At a seminar on sustainable cocoa cultivation in the province on November 6, they suggested the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development assist farmers in producing cocoa meeting UTZ standards, equivalent to Global Good Agricultural Practice – a world-class standard in cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvest activities.

According to Nguyen Van Hoa, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, cocoa plays an important role in increasing farmers’ incomes.

In the Central Highlands, south-eastern and Mekong Delta regions, cocoa is integrated into rubber, cashew nuts, coconut and fruit gardens, he said.

At present, Vietnam has over 20,700 ha of cocoa and 50 percent of them are in Ben Tre. Last year, the country exported 4,000 tonnes of dried cocoa.

By late 2012, Ben Tre was home to over 10,600 ha of cocoa. During the first months of this year, farmers rooted out nearly 2,000 ha of the crop, or 1 million trees due to its falling prices, reported the department.

Up to 1,700 local farmers are tending more than 1,000 ha of UTZ-certified cocoa in partnership with Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.

The province has also offered numerous business incentives to processors in order to create stable markets for local cocoa products.-VNA