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Rejuvenating Central Highlands coffee with the support of VnSAT

(VAN) Re-cultivated coffee farms are revitalizing the Central Highlands, with prospects of bountiful crops in the future.

Re-cultivation of coffee through the VnSAT project

Dak Ha district in Kon Tum is boosting development in the production and re-cultivation of sustainable coffee. Areas of old, diseased, and low-yielding coffee are gradually replaced by lush, high-quality coffee farms. This is the result of the VnSAT Project's effort in the effective re-cultivation of coffee plants, thereby raising income for coffee farmers in the area.

Coffee re-cultivation is revitalizing the Central Highlands. Photo: Tuan Anh.

Visitors to present-day Dak Ha district will the opportunity to visit the Plei Kroong hydropower reservoir in Ha Mon commune. They can also admire the beauty of the green coffee hills surrounding the lake.

Some gardeners are focusing on catering and pruning the re-cultivated coffee plants with newly sprouted green leaves this season.

While taking care of the 1-hectare re-cultivated coffee farm, Mr. Ngo Van Phuong (village 2, Ha Mon commune) said, over 10 years ago, his family would collect 4 to 5 tons of green coffee from each crop, and after selling, deducting expenses, the family still made a considerable amount of profit. A few years ago, the gradual decrease in coffee production along with poor quality and low profit has caused the family to re-cultivate.

Mr. Phuong is satisfied with the current growth of the re-cultivated coffee plants. He said that his previous difficult crops, coupled the aged coffee, has led to poor productivity, at only about 2 tons of beans/hectare. In 2020, he decided to loan money, rent an excavator to scoop holes, then let the soil rest for a year before fertilizing and planting.

“The farm was old and infested with nematodes in the past, so when it was demolished, the soil had to be carefully fertilized, otherwise the re-cultivated coffee plants would have yellow, poor quality leaves. Fortunately, the family attended training courses organized by the VnSAT Project during the re-cultivation process, so they have mastered the processes and knowledge to carry out coffee re-cultivation methodically and scientifically. Mr. Phuong said that the family re-cultivated with the TRS1 coffee plants for high yield.

The re-cultivated coffee farm of Ms. Ngo Thi Mai's family (village 2, Ha Mon commune) is ready for harvest, yielding from 3.5 to 4 tons of beans/hectares. Photo: Dang Lam.

Situated close to Mr. Phuong's coffee farm are 2 re-cultivated coffee farms belonging to Mrs. Ngo Thi Mai (village 2, Ha Mon commune) with a total area of ​​over 1.3 hectares. The re-cultivated coffee farm is currently in its third year and is yielding from 3.5 to 4 tons of beans/hectare.

Ms. Mai said that with these results, the family will continue to demolish 0.5 hectares of old coffee farms to re-cultivate next year.

Ms. Mai's family is reported to be one of the first households in Ha Mon commune to experiment and plant the new TRS1 coffee variety. Before selecting the variety, the family researched carefully about the technical parameters researched by the Institute of Central Highlands Agro-Forestry Science (Eakmat Institute); they were also supported by the VnSAT Project. Accordingly, TRS1 variety gives very high yield rate with excellent quality. This variety in particular has few small thorns compared to the old varieties, so nursery of the plant is easier.

Mr. Nguyen Tri Sau, Director of Sau Nhung Agricultural Production and Trading Cooperative (Dak Ha district) said that the coffee re-cultivating movement in Dak Ha district has never been as widespread as it is currently.

“Dak Ha is the coffee capital of Kon Tum province, but the majority of it is old with low productivity. The re-cultivation of coffee is being supported by many households in the area. Among the members of the cooperative, more than 20 hectares of coffee have been re-cultivated this year. Many coffee farms after re-cultivation using new varieties with high yields, even the newly harvested ones, have yielded over 3 tons of beans/hectare," said Mr. Sau. He added, leaders of the Central VnSAT Project who recently visited for work has highly praised the re-cultivated coffee farms of the local farmers.

The re-cultivated coffee farms are developing strongly. Photo: Tuan Anh.

Ms. Duong Thi Thanh Luong, Deputy Director of the VnSAT Kon Tum Project Management Board, said that over the years, thanks to training courses, farmers have raised their awareness and acquired knowledge to apply scientific and technical advances in sustainable coffee production and re-cultivation. Accordingly, farmers learned about reducing input costs including reducing inorganic fertilizers, increasing organic fertilizers, reducing irrigation water and reducing watering frequency in a year. 67.2% of farmers after training have applied such technical knowledge to sustainable coffee production, increasing their profit rate to 20.6% compared to before the project.

Ms. Luong also said that, in addition to coffee re-cultivationg training courses, the VnSAT Kon Tum project has contracted with technical support units to carry out activities such as monitoring, training needs assessment, pest management, soil analysis and nutritional diagnostics. These activities will support farmers in sustainable production and re-cultivation of coffee plants.

Breakthrough in coffee re-cultivation from 2021 to 2025

After 5 years of re-cultivation, many coffee farms in Gia Lai province have entered the business cycle with higher productivity and quality compared to the old plants. Gia Lai is continuing to promote coffee re-cultivation in the period of 2021 to 2025 with the goal of developing this industry sustainably.

Accordingly, Gia Lai is focusing on managing the seedlings source, recommending farmers to use quality seedlings from reputable suppliers such as TRS1, TRS4, ​​TRS9, etc. In addition, the localities also organize training on the technical process of re-cultivation, building a chain of sustainable coffee production.

Many coffee farms in Dak Krong commune, Dak Doa district have been reported to be in re-cultivation for 2-3 years. Many coffee farms have been "rejuvenated" with new coffee varieties such as TRS1, TRS4 with a yield of 20 tons of fresh cherries/hectare, some farms even reached a yield of 30 tons of fresh cherries/hectare.

Mr. Duong Thanh Bien's family (village 4, Dak Krong commune) has 1.5 hectares of coffee since the 1990s that are old and in poor quality. In 2018, the family learned about the VnSAT project supporting farmers in training coffee re-cultivation as well as providing seed and fertilizer support. The family demolished the old coffee farm to re-cultivate after learning of the project.

Thanks to the VnSAT Project, the coffee re-cultivation movement towards sustainability is spreading in the Central Highlands. Photo: Dang Lam.

After only 3 years of re-cultivation, coffee plants are harvested with a yield of over 3 tons of beans/hectare, while that number was previously only at nearly 2 tons. For this year's crop, the coffee farm is expected to yield over 4 tons of beans/hectare with favorable weather.

Mr. Doan Ngoc Co, Deputy Director of Gia Lai province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the sustainable coffee production and re-cultivation program over the years has shown positive signs. Thanks to support from the VnSAT project, farmers have actively applied science and technology to production to improve coffee productivity and quality. Accordingly, 70% of the farmers have successfully applied the technical process of sustainable coffee re-cultivation to practice.

On the other hand, localities in the province have also strictly controlled the quality of seedlings, so the re-cultivation brings high efficiency.

From 2016 to 2020, the province has re-cultivated over 12.5 thousand hectares of coffee, reaching 91.9% of the plan. Specifically, households have re-cultivated more than 11.5 thousand hectares, while businesses re-cultivated nearly 1,000 hectares.

Mr. Co said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is currently investigating, surveying and collecting information on the demand for coffee re-cultivation in the Central Highlands provinces in the period of 2021 to 2025. Therefore, localities will encourage farmers to continue re-cultivating with new high-quality varieties, intercropping with other crops to block wind and diversify crops; creating jobs and improving incomes as a result.

To date, the VnSAT Kon Tum Project has carried out 35 training courses on sustainable coffee re-cultivation for 1,411 farmers (female accounted for 50% and ethnic minorities 60% ) and 81 training courses on sustainable coffee production for 3,179 farmers (female accounted for 44%, ethnic group 56.7%). Students' evaluation on the quality, content and organizational form were carried out after the training courses. The courses are viewed as good and satisfactory. In order to serve the training courses, the VnSAT Project has implemented a demonstration model of coffee re-cultivation with an area of ​​19.1 hectares for 31 participating households; a demonstration model of sustainable production with an area of ​​22.5 hectares for 42 participating households. Households participating in the demonstration model met the following criteria: Advanced, hardworking households, located in the coffee production planning area and the Project area. In addition, people's coffee farms must be connected to roads, qualified in terms of human and material resources, willing to participate and share experiences with other farmers, etc.

Authors: Tuan Anh - Dang Lam


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