|Farmers prune coffee branches after harvesting in Đắk Lắk Province’s Cư M’gar District. – VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Cường|
HCM CITY — Old coffee trees on a total of 15,000ha will be replaced or grafted this year to improve yields, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s plant cultivation department.
Besides in areas where soil conditions are not suitable for robusta, it will be replaced by arabica, which has higher economic value.
In areas which lack water for irrigation, provincial authorities will reduce coffee trees until the total area under the crop in the country goes down to 600,000ha, which they hope to achieve next year.
The Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) region, the country’s largest coffee growing area, has replanted or grafted 108,800ha of old plants so far, meeting nearly 91 per cent of its target of 120,000ha by next year.
Lâm Đồng Province accounts for 54,000ha, the largest area in the region.
Farmers in the Tây Nguyên, which comprises Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, and Lâm Đồng provinces, have in recent years been growing new coffee varieties with high yields, quality and disease resistance such as TR4, TR9, TR11, and TR12 to replace old trees.
Varieties like TR4 are harvested in the dry season here, making it easier to harvest and process.
In the Tây Nguyên provinces and the southern provinces of Bình Phước and Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu farmers intercrop other crops on 115,282ha of coffee plantations, or 18.7 per cent of their total coffee growing area.
The intercropped plants are mostly pepper, avocado, durian, and cashew.
The ministry has notified farmers about planting procedures for intercropping pepper, avocado and durian in robusta plantations to avoid adverse impacts on the coffee trees.
Lê Văn Đức, deputy head of the plant cultivation department, said the intercropping has yielded good results since coffee and the other plants have different harvest seasons meaning farmers can earn year round.
It also offers farmers higher incomes compared to growing only coffee, according to the plant cultivation department.
In Lâm Đồng, farmers who intercrop can earn VNĐ192 million (US$8,250) per hectare annually.
In Đắk Lắk, farmers who also grow pepper in coffee orchards earn 1.7 times the income from only coffee.
The country’s largest coffee-growing province had more than 39,077ha of coffee orchards intercropped with pepper, durian, avocado, cashew and other plants as of 2017, according to its Plant Protection and Cultivation Sub-department. — VNS