New training centre to help farmers increase cocoa yields

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 16:50

Delegates cut the ribbon to open a cocoa technology transfer centre in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province on Wednesday. — VNS Photo Xuan Huong

BA RIA-VUNG TAU (Biz Hub) — Cargill on Wednesday opened a US$60,000 cocoa technology-transfer centre in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province that will train farmers in three surrounding provinces.

Located in Xa Bang Commune in Chau Duc District, the centre was sponsored by the Cargill Cares fund and will serve as a cocoa training campus for 2,000 farmers in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai and Binh Thuan provinces.

The centre, the first of its kind in the country, includes a training room for up to 200 people, an office area, a cocoa post-harvest processing demontration area and a 1.7ha demonstration cocoa farm.

The centre was on the same day handed over to the Xa Bang Agricultural Co-operative and the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Speaking at the ceremony, Job Leuning, head of Cargill's cocoa operations in Asia, said, "This centre is designed to do a special task: help cocoa farmers succeed by showing them good practices related to planting and maintenance, and technical training as well as coaching them on applying these techniques on real cocoa trees."

Cocoa farmers learn how to preserve cocoa at the centre's cocoa post-harvest procesing demontration area. — VNS Photo Xuan Huong

As a new crop in Viet Nam, many farmers still lack knowledge, skills and expertise about cocoa to achieve high yeilds.

Key technical training programmes offered by the centre will enable farmers to improve yield by 30-50 per cent over three years, he said.

Bui Phat Minh, head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Agriculture Development, said "small-scale cultivation and lack of farming expertise hindered stable cocoa development in the province."

The province has 1,246ha under cocoa cultivation, yielding about 429 tonnes of the sour beans, he said, adding that it targets to expand the cocoa cultivation area to 1,500 ha in the near furture, mainly intercropping with pepper, coffee and fruit trees.

By providing technical training as well as connecting farmers with purchasing and processing firms, the centre will create favourable conditions to help the cocoa industry develop in a sustainable manner, he said.

Viet Nam has about 22,000 ha under cocoa plantation currently, providing more than 5,000 tonnes of dried beans. Cargill is the biggest buyer of Vietnamese cocoa beans. — VNS

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