Gia Lai farmers struggle to find higher prices for VietGap coffee hinh anh 1Farmers work at a large coffee field in Gia Lai province’s Dak Doa district. (Photo: VNA)

Gia Lai (VNA) - Local authorities and farmers who grow coffee under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai are seeking a better selling price for their coffee because of its higher quality. 

Last year, 60 households in Ia Gon Village took part in the VietGap Robusta Coffee Planting Team in Duc Co district’s Ia Krel commune, under the support of the commune’s People’s Committee and the district’s Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.

Under the programme, local authorities promised that they would try to find buyers for their products, but have not been successful so far.

The farmers growing coffee trees under VietGap standards follow strict planting processes, including fertilisng methods and time, ripening rate of harvested coffee, and preservation methods.

Le Viet Hop, a team member who owns 1.5 ha of coffee trees, said his family harvested six tonnes of coffee beans last year, but could not find a buyer who was willing to pay higher prices.  

After waiting for about 1.5 months, he sold the coffee beans to buyers who paid the price for normal coffee.

“Although I felt very sad, I did not know what to do,” he said, adding that he had to sell for cash flow reasons.

Nguyen Si Hau, who is part of the planting team, has stocked seven tonnes of VietGap coffee in his house.

He said that planting VietGap coffee was strict and production costs were high, but he could wait to sell his coffee at a higher price.

Hoang Xuan Thuy, head of the planting team, said one company offered to buy the team’s coffee at 500 VND a kilo higher than normal coffee but it never returned.

Last year, the team harvested about 500 tonnes of coffee on 100 ha of coffee trees planted under strict VietGAP standards.

Of the figure, farmers had to sell about 150 tonnes at normal prices, but they stocked the remaining to wait for a better price, according to the Ia Krel Commune People’s Committee.

Siu Luynh, chairman of the Ia Krel Commune People’s Committee, said the People’s Committee was working with the district’s Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau to call on local coffee-buying establishments to guarantee outlets for VietGAp coffee.

The People’s Committee is also encouraging farmers to continue planting VietGAp coffee.

By the end of December, the Central Highlands province had 130 ha of VietGap coffee, including 130 ha in Duc Co district and 30 ha in Pleiku City, according to the province’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Quality Management Sub-department.  

Le Huy Toan, head of the sub-department, said: “We guide farmers planting VietGAP coffee in teams so that production processes can be monitored strictly, ensuring coffee quality.”

“We’ve organised fairs and meeting activities for coffee buyers and farmers to promote the coffee production chain,” he said.

Gia Lai, which has one of the largest coffee areas in the country, has more than 90,000 ha of coffee trees. Of the figure, trees on 18,000 ha are old and should be replanted by 2020, according to local authorities. 

To improve coffee quality, local authorities supported farmers in replanting old coffee trees.   

Farmers can borrow a loan of 150 million VND (6,600 USD) at a preferential interest rate per ha to replant old coffee trees.

Last year, farmers in the province replanted more than 3,500 ha of old coffee, exceeding 40 percent of the target. 

By 2020, the province aims to establish 4,000ha of large-scale coffee fields in major coffee cultivating areas like Duc Co, Chu Prong, Ia Grai and Dak Doa districts.

In Dak Doa district, more than 100 households in Nam Yang commune have set up a 120-ha, large-scale coffee field.-VNA