Vietnam’s total coffee output for the 2013-14 crop is forecast to drop by 15 percent against the previous season.

With 530,000 hectares designated for coffee growing, the country produces 1.2-1.5 million tonnes of coffee a year.

Vietnam’s coffee exports from the 2012-13 crop fell in terms of both volume and value, with 1.4 million tonnes being exported for 3.03 billion USD, contributing 2% of GDP.

The coffee industry will also see a decline in export prices, predicts the Vietnam Coffee and Cacao Association (Vicofa).

The association says adverse weather is behind the drop in production. The implementation of value-added tax refunds is also a cause of difficulties for both coffee growers and exporters.

Furthermore, the industry has faced a lack of mass production over the past three years because 90 percent of coffee farms are small-scale with an average area of less than two hectares, hindering the application of science and technology from growing, harvesting to processing.

To ease difficulties for the industry, Vicofa emphasised the need of financial support from banks. It also asked for an early launch of a Vietnam coffee development fund to buy coffee for reserves. It is part of an effort to keep domestic and for-export prices stable and protect coffee growers.

Apart from offering financial support to coffee exporters, it is necessary to provide soft loans or investment for coffee growers, ensuring stability of material input for production.

Coffee is one of Vietnam’s major hard currency earners, generating jobs for millions of people as well as ensuring socio-economic development in the Central Highlands, the country’s largest coffee growing area.-VNA