Đắk Lắk churns out top-quality cocoa products

June 20, 2024 - 09:24
Experts say that Đắk Lắk has the best cocoa in the country because of its ideal soil and climatic conditions for growing cacao.
Đắk Lắk Province grows cacao, from which cocoa and chocolate are made, on 1,140 hectares of lands. VNA Photo

ĐẮK LẮK – Experts say that Đắk Lắk has the best cocoa in the country because of its ideal soil and climatic conditions for growing cacao.

Besides, the experience of growing the bean has been passed down for many generations here, giving Đắk Lắk a great advantage in growing it.

The province has 1,140 hectares under the crop, and grows 1,525 tonnes of it annually.

The districts with large cacao growing areas are Ea Kar, Ea Súp, Krông Ana, and Ea H’leo.

Cocoa is a good crop for growing with fruit and forest trees since they do not compete much with the others, enabling farmers to earn extra incomes.

La Thị Thùy Linh, a cocoa farmer in Ea Kar District, said she grows the bean on nearly a hectare and produces 2.5 tonnes (2,500kg) of dry seeds every year.

Prices have doubled since last year to VNĐ150,000-VNĐ180,000 (US$6-7.2) per kilogramme, giving her a profit of VNĐ250 million ($10,000) this year.

According to Linh, prices increase every year while her harvest is fully bought by the Ea Kar District Cooperative.

Võ Văn Sỹ, a farmer in Krông Ana District, said he earned a profit of nearly VNĐ135 million ($5,400) this year though his cocoa output fell by nearly half due to a prolonged drought, thanks to the sharp increase in prices.

Thái Đăng Đàm, chairman of the Ea Kar District Cooperative, said the cooperative’s One Community One Product (OCOP) items made from the bean include cocoa powder, butter, chocolate, and wine.

Realising the potential of cocoa, the cooperative plans to increase the area under the crop by 10-15 hectares per year and adopt technology.

The global demand for cocoa is currently very high and easily exceeds. But Vietnamese businesses only export raw cocoa beans and do processed products.

Đắk Lắk has six cocoa processing companies that export to Japan and the Europe.

But with their main product being fermented dried cocoa beans, they do not earn much money.

To boost farming of the crop, the province is promoting research into new high-yield varieties, fostering links between production, processing and consumption and encouraging businesses to invest, innovate processing technologies, diversify their products, and meet international standards to take Vietnamese cocoa products to the world.

Trương Ngọc Quang, director of Nam Trường Sơn Cocoa Company Limited, said cocoa prices are increasing beyond businesses’ expectations.

It has tied up with two cooperatives that have a combined 250ha in Krông Ana, Ea Kar and Buôn Đôn districts, and export 200-250 tonnes of the bean a year.

To increase exports, Đắk Lắk is developing a cocoa development project based on its agricultural restructuring plans.

Its goal is to enhance the value of products made from the bean and build brands to meet the increasing demand in global and domestic markets.

Cocoa development also needs to be sustainable, adapt to climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

In addition to developing high-quality and added-value products from cacao trees, many farms are also offering eco-tourism to attract visitors.

Tourists can try picking the cacao fruit, taste smoothies made from its pulp, a special treat that can only be found at farms, and observe the process of making cocoa. – VNS