ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Vietnamese coffee industry looks forward
Speaking at the16th annual AICC conference, Luong Van Tu, chairman of the Viet Nam Coffee-Cocoa Association (VICOFA), said the industry had suffered lower export profits because of inconsistent quality.
The two-day conference is being attended by domestic and foreign experts, as well as coffee roasters, retailers, traders and producers.
Coffee selling prices had at times been lower than production costs, causing farmers' incomes to drop. With such low revenue, many of them had been unable to reinvest in their plantations, Tu said.
Moreover, current coffee cultivation practices in Viet Nam are seen as unsustainable, leading to high production costs, soil degradation and lower yields.
"Adverse weather and ageing coffee bushes have also contributed to low quality of Viet Nam's coffee. About 30 per cent of the country's coffee bushes are more than 20 years old," Tu noted. Severe competition from other countries is another challenge faced by the local industry. To address these concerns, VICOFA said it would provide market information and organise promotions for exporters.
VICOFA has also asked the Government to support coffee growers by offering preferential loans for a period of six or nine months.
Jose Sette, executive director of the International Coffee Organisation, said many countries faced similar challenges, including economic pressures such as interest rates, exchange rates and labour costs.
Other issues include infrastructure, management of pests and diseases and development of new coffee varieties that can adapt to climate change and resist disease.
Better fertility, erosion control, improved harvesting techniques and post-harvest processing were also essential for the sustainable development of the coffee industry, Sette said. The top 10 coffee producers are Brazil, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Colombia, India, Mexico, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras and Uganda.
Doan Xuan Hoa, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Agro-Processing and Trade Department, said that the Vietnamese coffee industry had showed weaknesses in cultivation, processing and exporting.
"Our coffee has high status, but the price offered for it is unstable in the global market because of the inconsistent quality," Hoa said.
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