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Expecting to promote Vietnamese arabica coffee value chain to the international market

The French Embassy in Vietnam, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), and the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences co-hosted a seminar on June 6 to announce the results of the experimental cultivation of hybrid arabica coffee varieties in the northwest region as part of a project funded by France. Participants were also offered five coffee samples that were grown from these experimental plots, including Sarchimor Marsellesa, F1 hybrid Starmaya, F1 hybrid Centroamericano (H1), and Catimor (local variety - control).

Mr. Nicolas Warnery, the French ambassador to Vietnam, has determined that this is an important initiative in France and Vietnam's partnership and a clear demonstration of the quality of cooperation between the two nations in the sector of agriculture in particular.

Expecting to promote Vietnamese arabica coffee value chain to the international market

French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery highly appreciated the results of the pilot project of hybrid coffee (Arabica) varieties in the Northwest region in Vietnam for the period (2017-2021). Photo: Linh Linh.

According to the ambassador, the project is a fantastic opportunity for researchers since it promotes the value-added of Vietnamese agricultural goods and has broad application due to the cooperation of the public and commercial sectors.

"The good news is that initial trial planting results suggest that the new coffee varieties exhibit excellent drought tolerance, sun tolerance, high pest and disease resistance, and higher yields. Due to these features, growers may reduce their use of fertilizers and pesticides, so preserving the economic and biological sustainability of coffee cultivation. "Ambassador Nicolas Warnery pointed out.

Vietnam's coffee business has achieved great strides over the past two decades thanks to a succession of initiatives on studying and selecting coffee varieties, including the intensification cultivation of robusta coffee, which has helped place the Vietnamese coffee brand on the world coffee map.

Associate Professor Dao The Anh, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS), stated that this is a small-budget ODA project with a high priority for increasing the quality of coffee and tea products. It contributes to the diversification and quality improvement strategies of the Vietnamese coffee industry.

Five coffee samples were harvested from the pilot plots of the French-funded Arabia coffee-growing project. Photo: Linh Linh.

During the project's execution, the research institutes of VAAS received a great deal of assistance with regards to varieties, biotechnological processes for rapid propagation of F1 hybrid dominant coffee in the laboratory and greenhouses, gene conservation, and preservation of arabica.

The Northern Mountainous Agro-Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI) is responsible for conducting research and developing a sustainable coffee farming process in the direction of agroforestry in the region, as well as providing training to local cooperatives and businesses to transfer technical advances. 

Assoc. Prof. Dao The Anh, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS), said that the project contributes to the strategy of diversifying Vietnamese coffee products. Photo: Linh Linh.

In addition, VAAS collaborates with Vietnamese businesses to market goods. Since then, a tight coffee value chain has been established, ensuring that the quality of Vietnamese coffee has improved.

Starmaya and Centroamericano H1 are among the experimental coffee varieties with the greatest potential for product development in mountainous regions of Vietnam over 400 meters. In addition to aiding in the eradication of hunger and the alleviation of poverty and boosting the incomes of those living in hilly regions, a preliminary assessment reveals that these species of plants produce yields that are 15 to 20 percent greater.

"The development of these coffee varieties will not be limited to the project. Hopefully, VAAS and its partners can continue to experiment to be allowed to produce and trade these superior coffee varieties in Vietnam by the law and to organize the propagation of disease-free coffee, meeting the needs of farmers, businesses, and cooperatives," said Associate Professor Dr. Dao The Anh.

He anticipates that the parties will continue to deepen their collaboration to promote the coffee sector, with the Vietnamese coffee and tea value chain expanding to the global market.

Since 2017, CIRAD has collaborated with European and Vietnamese research organizations to study novel Arabica coffee varieties (F1 hybrid) in the mountainous provinces of Son La and Dien Bien. These new varieties were initially chosen and promoted in Central America to solve three challenges: climate change, agroforestry, and coffee quality improvement.

The introduction and testing of these new varieties were initially sponsored by the European Union via the project "Evaluation and selection of coffee varietals for agroforestry systems" (BREEDCAFS) from 2017 to 2022, and subsequently by the European Union and AFD via the ASSET project beginning in 2021.

"These types are ideally suited for agroforestry since they sustain high yields under shady circumstances," explained CIRAD researcher Pierre Marraccini.

"With yields being 10 to 15% higher than the average in the region, combined with a better taste quality will ensure a better-deserved income for producers."

The agroforestry model is a sustainable agriculture strategy supported by CIRAD that incorporates intercropping of crops in upland areas, which contributes to soil fertility, biodiversity conservation, and climate regulation.

Author: Linh Linh

Translated by Dieu Linh

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