Coffee exports this year are likely to reach 1.2 million tonnes, earning the country a turnover of 3 billion USD, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development forecasts.

The exports would be equal to last year's quantity but increase by 10 percent in quality, the ministry said.

The prediction was made amid the International Coffee Organisation's pessimistic information about the global coffee production in the 2011-12 crop, which was estimated at over 132.4 million bags, down by 1.3 percent against the previous crop.

Meanwhile, slumps in international coffee prices also influenced domestic prices. As of late January this year, coffee prices in the central highland province of Dak Lak decreased by 3.4 percent compared to that of the beginning of this year, reaching only 36,800 VND (1.7 USD) per kilo.

The country generated 350 million USD from exporting 170,000 tonnes of coffee in the first month of this year, marking a year-on-year decrease of 21 percent in volume and 15 percent in turnover.

Vietnamese coffee is exported to nearly 80 countries and territories, with the US , Germany and Belgium the largest importers.

In order to ensure the sustainable development of the coffee sector, the Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association chairman Luong Van Tu said coffee growers and businesses should further unite in farming, processing and price setting.

Market forecasting and analysing of market information must be improved, he said.

Nguyen Van Hoa, deputy head of the agriculture ministry's Cultivation Department, said the coffee industry should reorganise production with a focus on improving quality, and investing more in processing to add more value to the bean.

The coffee sector in the coming years must replace old trees to avoid a sharp decrease in yield, he said.

In addition, coffee production companies should try to obtain global coffee certificates such as UTZ and Common Code for the Coffee Community to increase the value of Vietnamese coffee.

Hoa said Vicofa will hold more trade promotion activities to boost exports to China , ASEAN member countries and the Middle East . /.