|Farmers in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum are packing saplings. Experts warn that 70 per cent of the coffee crops in the Central Highlands could be so depleted by 2020 that they will require replanting. — VNA/VNS Tran Le Lam
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS (VNS)— Experts are warning that 70 per cent of the coffee plants in the Central Highlands could be so depleted by 2020 that they would require re-planting.
According to the Central Highlands Agro-Forestry Scientific and Technical Institute, one-quarter of the coffee-growing areas in the region have been over-exploited for more than 20 years, resulting in their generating less than 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
And much of the soil is infected with plant parasites, especially root-knot nematodes, which largely infect plant roots and cause degradation in both nutrients and yield.
Le Ngoc Bau, head of the institute, told Thoi Bao Ngan Hang (Banking Times) that most of the over-exploited land areas must be left unused for at least 2-4 years.
In Chu M'gar District, the largest coffee-growing area in Dak Lak Province, more than 60 per cent of the 36,000 hectares of coffee plants have been exploited for more than 25 years.
According to Dak Lak Province's Agriculture and Rural Development Department, by the end of 2012, the province will have slightly more than 200,000 hectares of coffee plantations, with only about 1,148 hectares of newly-planted ground.
Viet Nam's coffee production would be badly affected if the coffee plants in the area were not re-planted in the next 10 years, according to the Viet Nam Coffee and Cacao Association.
The association has been reviewing areas that require replanting along with agricultural departments in Central Highlands provinces. In Dak Lak, the authorities have been supporting farmers with coffee seeds since 2011.
Yet only about 7 per cent of the coffee growing areas in the region have been replanted.
Most coffee growers operate small-scale plantations, so they are reluctant to wait for 2-3 years for the land to become usable, as they would have no income during that period.
Additionally, some farmers lack the money to buy seedlings.
Viet Nam is considered the world's largest producer of the Robusta variety. In August 2012, Viet Nam surpassed Brazil to become the world's largest coffee exporter, according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO).
The Viet Nam General Statistics Office reported that the country was able to export 1.6 million tonnes of coffee of the 2011- 12 crop and pocketed US$3 billion. — VNS