Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The use of advanced farming techniques has resulted in high profits for organic cocoa farmers in the southern province of Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu.
Trương Ngọc Lâm, who intercrops cocoa and pepper, durian and mangosteen on a 0.9ha orchard in Châu Đức District’s Xà Bang Commune, has harvested 2.5 tonnes of dried cocoa beans annually in recent years.
Lâm, a member of the Xà Bang Agricultural Services and Trade Co-operative, has earned VNĐ60,000 (US$2.6) a kilo for cocoa beans, earning a profit of VNĐ100 million ($4,280) a year.
Farmers of cocoa trees, which require less tending than other plants, have had stable outlets and high selling prices in recent years, according to Lâm.
“All cocoa beans of our co-operative’s members are guaranteed outlets by a processing company,” he said.
The co-operative has 20 members who grow a total of 30ha of organic cocoa.
Trịnh Văn Thành, director of the co-operative, said farmers follow UTZ standards, including irrigation, fertilisation, and note-taking during the planting process.
In Xà Bang Commune, the Châu Đức Organic Cocoa Co-operative, established last year, has 30 members planting a total of 70ha of organic cocoa.
The co-operative members earn a profit of VNĐ100 million per ha a year.
Nguyễn Ngọc Linh, chairman of the Châu Đức District Farmers Association, said the district had identified cocoa as one of its key plants.
The district, which produces cocoa with international standards, has also invested in cocoa processing to increase value, which has resulted in better sales to processing companies.
Processors make many kinds of products. Thành Đạt T-S-M Chocolate Co., Ltd in Xà Bang Commune, for instance, has produced cocoa power, cocoa butter, cacao liquor and chocolate products. The company’s products have been exported to the Netherlands and the US.
It also exports about 29 tonnes of cocoa nibs and cocoa mass a month to South Korea and Japan.
In previous years, many cocoa farmers in the province had switched to other plants like pepper. However, stable outlets for cocoa in recent years have led to higher incomes for farmers.
Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu, which is one of the country’s largest cocoa producers, has about 1,200ha of cocoa, mostly in Châu Đức, Xuyên Mộc and Tân Thành districts where the soil and weather conditions are favourable for planting cocoa. Of the figure, an annual yield of 300 tonnes are produced on 500ha.
The province’s cocoa trees are mostly TD3, TD6 and TD9 varieties which produce a high yield of three tonnes per ha.
About 90 per cent of the province’s cocoa are intercropped with other trees like cashew and grapefruit.
Compared to other localities, cocoa grown in the province has a higher quality, according to experts. — VNS