Sơn La coffee growers supported in sustainable development

September 12, 2021 - 13:33

More than 4,300 coffee growing households in the northern province of Sơn La will receive support in coffee farming, production and trade under a 2-year project by the Foundation for International Development/Relief (FIDR) Vietnam Office – a Japan-based NGO.



Harvesting coffee in Chiềng Ban Commune, Mai Sơn District in Sơn La province. Photo baosonla.org.vn

HÀ NỘI -- More than 4,300 coffee growing households in the northern province of Sơn La will receive supports in coffee farming, production and trade under a 2-year project by the Foundation for International Development/Relief (FIDR) Vietnam Office – a Japan-based international non-Governmental organisation.

The “Sustainable Coffee Project” launched on Friday via a webinar will be implemented in six communes belonging to Thuận Châu District, Mai Sơn District and Sơn La City.

Nobuko Otsuki, FIDR Vietnam Office’s Country Representative, said that with sponsorship from AEON, the FIDR in cooperation with Tây Bắc University, Sơn La province authorities and several supply chain companies would work together for sustainable coffee production through community development.


People join the launch of a project on sustainable coffee that offers support to more than 4,300 coffee households in northern Sơn La province. VNS Photo

Under the project, local coffee growers will have the chance to join training courses to improve their literacy, negotiation skills, farming techniques and trade-related skills, she said.

Kahori Miyake, representative from AEON, said that the project was prepared for more than one year but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project's activities were changed to adapt to the new situation.

However, the participation of parties including the Tây Bắc University, FIDR, Sơn La authorities and coffee farmers made the project run effectively.

“People are happy to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. When having the coffee, we should thank those who grow it, process it and sell it,” she said, adding that the AEON group expected that their consumers, especially those in Japan, to know about Sơn La coffee and coffee growers.

Đinh Thanh Tâm, rector of Tây Bắc University, said that Sơn La Province was the home of delicious fruit and farming produce thanks to a good climate and geographical conditions.

Coffee has been grown in Sơn La province since the 1980s. The province currently has nearly 18,000 hectares of coffee, with last year’s production at more than 25,000 tonnes.

Coffee is grown mostly in the districts of Mai Sơn, Thuận Châu, Sốp Cộp, Yên Châu and Sơn La City.

“Catimor coffee grown in Sơn La Province has good quality and it’s a pride of the locality,” Tâm said, adding that coffee farming helped local people improve incomes and living standards in the last few years.

However, coffee growers in Sơn La Province faced disadvantages relating to limited farming level and trade understanding.

Farmers mostly sold raw coffee at low prices, Tâm said, adding that technical and trade support was much needed.

Cà Thị Biên, a farmer in Chiềng Ban Commune, Mai Sơn District, said that she was happy to see that people liked the coffee made in Sơn La.

She said she expected to learn more about farming and trading thanks to the project’s support so that she could have a better stable income, thus could pay her debts, send her children to school and open a grocery store.

Cầm Thị Phóng, vice director of the province’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said that in the last few years despite improved facilities for coffee production, Sơn La coffee still faced difficulties.

Old coffee trees with low yield were common in a large area. Coffee farmers have yet to apply measures to ensure sustainable development or become resilient to climate change, Phóng said.

Nguyễn Xuân Hoàng, vice chairman of Thuận Châu People’s Committee District, said that most of the 5,500 hectares of coffee in the district were in hilly land, causing difficulties for farmers in harvesting and transporting.

Farmers used motorbikes to carry coffee from farms to purchasing sites of wholesalers, so labour costs are very high. Most of the farmers used home-made fertilisers and conventional farming techniques without proper understanding, Hoàng said.

“Notably, farmers sold coffee to wholesalers and hardly knew where the coffee would go next, or for which companies. As a result, Sơn La coffee has not developed its own brand despite its good quality,” Hoàng said, urging further support in brand development.   

Bùi Thị Định, vice head of Mai Sơn District’s Agriculture department, said local farmers had difficulties in processing their coffee and treating agricultural waste.

A kilo of fresh coffee can be sold at VNĐ 8,000-8,500, but a kilo of dried coffee sold at VNĐ 12,00-14,000. Despite the big difference, local farmers mostly sold unprocessed coffee, she said.

The project is expected to offer solutions to lower input costs as well as proper market understanding so that farmers can get better coffee prices. VNS