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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           17   August  2011

Farmers develop alliances to increase value

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Farmers in Gia Lai Province are joining alliances to enhance the value of their agricultural products as part of a project that uses funds from a governmental loan from the World Bank.

Le Van Linh, deputy director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province was taking advantage of the national Agricultural Competitiveness Project (ACP) to lift production and sale of several key products.

"Coffee, pepper and cows for meat are the ones prioritised," said Linh, who is also director of the ACP in Gia Lai Province.

Alliances with farmers producing other items, including mushrooms and sugarcane, will also be formed.

The Viet Nam ACP project is conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, focusing on central provinces, including Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Binh Dinh, Ninh Thuan and Gia Lai. It is funded with US$75 million from the World Bank's International Development Association loan and Vietnamese Government support.

The ACP in Gia Lai (Gia Lai ACP Unit) plans to set up 11-12 alliances, with a US $8.2 million fund, to link farmers in one specific agricultural sector to enhance the competitiveness of local agro-products, according to the Gia Lai ACP Unit.

In November last year, the Gia Lai ACP Unit succeeded in forming an alliance of farmers who grow coffee trees in Chu Prong District.

One hundred farmers, whose products in the past were sold directly to traders, have joined together to produce a coffee product under the brand name of Utz.

"The Utz product is being exported globally," said Hoang Van Tuan, a coordinator of Gia Lai ACP Unit.

Last July, 80 households raising cows for meat in Kong Chro District and a local enterprise formed an alliance in which they learn feeding techniques that will help fatten up cows for sale.

"Farmers in the district's An Trung Commune here raise cows and sell cows to traders individually, but they don't know how to feed cows to fatten them up before selling, resulting in low profits," said Tuan.

"The alliance members learn feeding techniques. The local Van Bau enterprise will collect the farmers' cows after the feeding process. This brings more income to cow farmers," Tuan said. Farmers in the alliance also take advantage of local feed sources like grass, sweet corn, rice bran and sugarcane to feed cows, according to formulas gained from the alliances training programs.

The formulas help to increase the weight of the cows, thus producing a higher quality of beef. The cows are typically raised with an average of eight other animals in each household.

Forty percent of the total expenses from the feeding process will be refunded by the Gia Lai ACP Unit to the farmers after each harvest of cows, based on the invoices or receipts given by the farmers.

"ACP is not a project that provides 100 per cent funding to farmers. Farmers get 40 percent of In mid-July, the World Bank decided to assist the association to form two alliances of pepper farmers.

One is for growing pepper in a sustainable manner, with the aim of increasing the quality and yield of the well-known Chu Se pepper.

Another is to gather outstanding pepper farmers in a plant that produces white pepper.

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