BA RIA-VUNG TAU (VNS)— Cargill has opened a US$60,000 cocoa technology-transfer centre in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province that will train farmers in three surrounding provinces.
Located in Xa Bang Commune in Chau Duc District, the centre will serve as a cocoa training campus for 2,000 farmers in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai and Binh Thuan provinces.
The centre includes a training room for up to 200 people, an office area, a cocoa post-harvest processing demontration area and a 1.7ha demonstration cocoa farm.
The centre was on the same day handed over to the Xa Bang Agricultural Co-operative and the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Job Leuning, head of Cargill's cocoa operations in Asia, said, "This centre is designed to do a special task: help cocoa farmers succeed by showing them good practices related to planting and maintenance, and technical training as well as coaching them on applying these techniques on real cocoa trees."
As a new crop in Viet Nam, many farmers still lack knowledge, skills and expertise about cocoa to achieve high yields.
Key technical training programmes offered by the centre would enable farmers to improve yield by 30-50 per cent over three years, he said.
Bui Phat Minh, head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Agriculture Development, said "small-scale cultivation and lack of farming expertise hindered stable cocoa development in the province."
The province had 1,246ha under cocoa cultivation, yielding about 429 tonnes of the sour beans, he said, adding that it targeted to expand the cocoa cultivation area to 1,500 ha in the near furture, mainly intercropping with pepper, coffee and fruit trees.
Viet Nam has about 22,000 ha under cocoa plantation currently, providing more than 5,000 tonnes of dried beans. — VNS