quality drops off alarmingly
|A farmer in Gia Lai
Province harvests coffee beans. The old method of collecting both ripe
and unripe coffee beans has reduced the quality of Vietnamese coffee,
leading to its rejection on the international market. — VNA/VNS Photo
HA NOI — Coffee quality
is becoming a hot issue after a Viet Nam Coffee and Cocoa Association (VICOFA)
representative revealed a staggering increase in rejected product.
From October 2005 to March
2006, about 88 per cent of the coffee rejected on the world market was from Viet
Nam, said Doan Trieu Nhan, deputy chairman of VICOFA, during a meeting organised
by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
This was a 19 per cent
increase from the previous six month period, he said.
Ministry experts blame the
decline in quality on farmers mixing unripe and ripe beans during harvest. In
addition, farmers are not properly drying the beans after harvesting, which
reduces the overall quality.
The price for unripe and
ripe coffee beans are virtually the same, which discourages farmers from
separating the two. In addition, farmers fear a slowdown in harvesting and
higher operating costs associated with separating the beans.
Deputy Chairman Nhan
admits that harvesting unripe beans reduces coffee exports by 10 to 20 per cent
due to the frequent quality rejections.
The biggest loss, however,
was the prestige of Vietnamese coffee in international market, Nhan added.
Buyers in the US and Europe value Vietnamese coffee’s natural quality, which
has led to direct competition with long established markets like Brazil and
Harvesting yields are high
even though the total area planted for coffee is a quarter of that used in
Brazil. Viet Nam as a result has become one of the world’s largest coffee
exporters, a title experts fear may be lost if quality does not improve.
Deputy Minister of
Agriculture and Rural Development Diep Kinh Tan is concerned that the Vietnamese
coffee industry ranks second in quality but fifth in export turnover.
When Viet Nam becomes a
World Trade Organisation member, the coffee industry will face more stringent
regulations on hygiene and quality control, Tan said.
He urged industry leaders
to make the necessary adjustments in order to stay competitive in the global
The ministry has guided
the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) provinces, where more than 90 per cent of the
country’s coffee plantations are located, through quality control
will teach people new harvesting technology. Each province will set up their own
model to harvest and process coffee beans.
The ministry has suggested
that coffee earmarked for export be thoroughly examined before being shipped.