Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – Đắk Lắk Province, the country largest coffee producer, planned to replace 4,259 ha of old coffee trees with new ones in the rainy season, but farmers have reached only 50 per cent of the target, mostly due to lower prices for coffee beans, according to Việt Nam News Agency.
With the current price of VNĐ32,500 – 32,700 (US$1.4) a kilo, farmers are not making a profit, so they decided to keep their trees that are more than 20 years old.
Nguyễn Phi Long, who has 3ha of coffee trees more than 22 years old in Cư M’sgar District, planned to replace the trees during the rainy season but the prices have been too low.
His old coffee trees have a very low yield of 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
The rainy season in the province is between May and October.
Y Vong Niê in Krông Búk District cut down his 1.5ha of old coffee trees and switched to avocado and durian, both of which are more lucrative.
In recent years, many coffee farmers in Đắk Lắk have intercropped other trees in coffee orchards to increase income.
The Central Highlands province had 185,071ha of coffee last year. Of the figure, 39,077ha were intercropped with pepper, avocado, durian, cashew and other plants, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The model of intercropping other plants in coffee orchards has yielded profits 3-4 times higher than that from coffee.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Western Highlands Agro-Forestry Scientific and Technical Institute, and other agencies have instructed farmers to use new Robusta coffee varieties TR4, TR9, TR 11, TR12 and TR 13 to replace old coffee trees.
The varieties have high yield and quality and are resistant to coffee leaf rust, a fungus which can lead to loss of leaves and ability to produce beans.
The cost of replacing coffee trees is about VNĐ100 – 150 million ($4,200 – 6,300) per ha.
Under the province’s policy, farmers who replace old coffee trees can borrow a loan worth up to 80 per cent of the replanting costs.
Between 2011 and 2017, the province’s farmers replaced 20,541 ha of old coffee trees with new ones.
In recent years, the province has used new advanced farming techniques and machines, as well as water-efficient irrigation equipment, and has invested in irrigation systems for coffee planting areas.
The province aims to have irrigation systems in 75 – 80 per cent of its coffee planting areas by 2020.
The province’s red basalt soil is good for planting coffee trees, and coffee yield in the province is the country’s highest. – VNS