The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) will keep the country’s total coffee cultivation area of between 450,000 and 500,000 ha, with an average productivity of 2 or 2.4 tonnes per ha in coming years.

The cultivation areas will be located in several provinces in the Central Highlands and the south east and north central regions only to ensure higher productivity and better management of coffee quality, according to the MARD’s Cultivation Department.

Department representatives said in the agency’s report that the ministry’s limitation of cultivation areas was aimed to ensure stable supplies of coffee products in both domestic and overseas markets.

Over the past few years, oversupply has led to a drop in the world market price. The growth of the industry in Vietnam has been spectacular in the last decade. The area under coffee has increased from a mere 19,000 ha in 1975 to 454,000 ha in 2005.

In 2007 alone, the area soared to 506,000 ha, up by 10,000 ha as compared with the figure in 2006.
Last year, the industry produced about 960,000 tonnes, up 6,300 tonnes as compared with 2008. This year, it expects to generate between 1.08 and 1.26 million tonnes.

In 2009, the country exported 1.18 million tonnes of coffee, up 11.71 percent. However, it earned just 1.73 billion USD, down 18.03 percent.

Industry insiders said there were decreases in prices of Vietnamese coffee products due to oversupply and low quality. In particular, the price of a ton of coffee was down by between 400 USD and 500 USD in 2009.

To ensure productivity as well as quality, the ministry also plans to take other measures, including requiring localities to use new high-yield and good quality seeds for their coffee plantations, while consolidating their local coffee seed multiplication establishments to ensure quality supplies.

About 25 percent of the country’s coffee cultivation area are in need of reform or are being replanted due to old and stunted trees.

The ministry will also ask coffee processing and trading companies to classify products and examine quality immediately according to a set of national standards coded TCVN 4193:2005.

In the near future, coffee enterprises would have to apply the world’s Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) to ensure a sustainable development for the local industry.

Provincial People’s Committees will be responsible for adjusting coffee development activities in their localities according to approved plans, and strengthening management to prevent unplanned development practices.

The ministry has asked them to provide guidelines for farmers to help them apply intensive farming methods, and harvest coffee in line with technical requirements.

The Vietnam Coffee Corporation will invest more in processing technology, and increase trade promotions to advertise Vietnamese coffee products.

The Cultivation Department said it had already established a process to implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for production of Vietnamese coffee.

It has also proposed that the ministry issue plans soon to use international standards for coffee bean exports, and co-operate with international organisations to train producers and professional inspectors, with the aim of improving the quality of exports./.