Trinh Van Thanh (right), director of the Xa Bang Agricultural Services and Trade Co-operative in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province’s Chau Duc district, speaks to a member of the cooperative about cocoa tending processes (Photo: VNA)
Ba Ria-Vung Tau (VNS/VNA) - The use of advanced farming techniques has resulted in high profits for organic cocoa farmers in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Truong Ngoc Lam, who intercrops cocoa and pepper, durian and mangosteen on a 0.9ha orchard in Chau Duc district’s Xa Bang commune, has harvested 2.5 tonnes of dried cocoa beans annually in recent years.

Lam, a member of the Xa Bang Agricultural Services and Trade Cooperative, has earned 60,000 VND (2.6 USD) a kilo for cocoa beans, earning a profit of 100 million VND (4,280 USD) a year.

Farmers of cocoa trees, which require less tending than other plants, have had stable outlets and high selling prices in recent years, according to Lam.

“All cocoa beans of our cooperative’s members are guaranteed outlets by a processing company,” he said.

The cooperative has 20 members who grow a total of 30ha of organic cocoa.

Trinh Van Thanh, director of the cooperative, said farmers follow UTZ standards, including irrigation, fertilisation, and note-taking during the planting process.

In Xa Bang commune, the Chau Duc Organic Cocoa Cooperative, established last year, has 30 members planting a total of 70ha of organic cocoa. The cooperative members earn a profit of 100 million VND per ha a year.

Nguyen Ngọc Linh, Chairman of the Chau Duc District Farmers Association, said the district had identified cocoa as one of its key plants.

The district, which produces cocoa with international standards, has also invested in cocoa processing to increase value, which has resulted in better sales to processing companies.

Processors make many kinds of products. Thanh Dat T-S-M Chocolate Co., Ltd in Xa Bang commune, for instance, has produced cocoa power, cocoa butter, cacao liquor and chocolate products. The company’s products have been exported to the Netherlands and the US.

It also exports about 29 tonnes of cocoa nibs and cocoa mass a month to the Republic of Korea and Japan.

In previous years, many cocoa farmers in the province had switched to other plants like pepper. However, stable outlets for cocoa in recent years have led to higher incomes for farmers.

Ba Ria-Vang Tau, which is one of the country’s largest cocoa producers, has about 1,200ha of cocoa, mostly in Chau Duc, Xuyen Moc and Tan Thanh districts where the soil and weather conditions are favourable for planting cocoa. Of the figure, an annual yield of 300 tonnes are produced on 500ha.

The province’s cocoa trees are mostly TD3, TD6 and TD9 varieties which produce a high yield of three tonnes per ha.

About 90 percent of the province’s cocoa are intercropped with other trees like cashew and grapefruit.   

Compared to other localities, cocoa grown in the province has a higher quality, according to experts.-VNS/VNA