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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 5/9   2010-09-05 - Viet Nam Net

Work on Asia’s largest instant coffee factory starts 

The Indian-based Coffee Co.Ltd September 3 started the construction of the Asia’s largest instant coffee processing factory in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. 

Covering an area of 24 hectares, the US$18 project will have an output of 10,000 tons of products per year.

Its annual turnover from domestic consumption and export is expected to reach US$27 million and the figure is expected to increase to $40.5 million by 2014.

The factory  is also scheduled to complete in July, 2011 and to create 1,200 jobs.

As of now, with over 180,000 hectares of coffee, the province’s average annual coffee output is estimated at 430,000 tons of unprocessed coffee, and over 1,000 tons of instant coffee.

Thanks to the application of intensive farming methods, coffee productivity in Dak Lak has also sharply increased.

Farmers abandon special pomelos as earnings drop

A drop in Dien pomelo productivity in recent years has left growers concerned as bad weather and more lucrative alternatives are inducing farmers to abandon one of Ha Noi’s fruit specialities.

Nguyen Duy Trung, vice chairman of Thuong Mo Commune, Dan Phuong District, in Ha Noi suburb, said pomelo farming used to account for 100-120 hectares of area, equivalent to 50 per cent of the arable land five years ago, but now 10 per cent of the pomelo orchards had been replaced by banana, papaya or flower growing.

Local farmers had started uprooting pomelo trees because of a dearth of fruit in the last four years despite local farmers strictly following expert advice, he said.

Dan Phuong District’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department said the district had over 300ha devoted to pomelo farming, and the communes of Phuong Dinh and Thuong Mo both faced declining productivity.

Unfavourable weather, including heavy hail in November 2006 and a record cold spell in early 2008, was thought to be to blame for the damage to the trees, said a department officer.

Prior to 2007, local farmers could earn VND196 million (US$9,800) per hectare, but this figure had declined to a third of its previous value.

Nguyen Van Trung, a farmer in An Son Hamlet, Thuong Mo Commune, said he was one of the first to grow pomelo in the commune and he used to earn VND90-100 million ($4,500 -5,000) from his quarter of a hectare orchard.

However this year he did not expect to see such a high turnover despite more favourable weather.

Tran Thi Oanh from Dai Phu Hamlet, Thuong Mo Commune, said a few years ago pomelo trees would yield hundreds of fruit but over the last four years, each tree had produced less than a dozen fruits, to the consternation of local farmers.

Commune official Trung said many local farmers had gone to work in factories instead of tending their orchards, despite local authority encouragement for them to keep farming.

Early this year, experts from the city’s and district’s agriculture departments held a seminar on farming techniques for about 200 local farming households but the situation had failed to improve.

Meanwhile, in Tu Liem District’s Phu Dien Commune – the original home of Dien pomelo - land devoted to pomelo farming had declined due to the pressure of urbanisation.

Chairman of the Phu Dien Agriculture Co-operative Nguyen Van Cuong said the commune previously grew pomelo over an area of 50ha but now only half of that was devoted to the citrus fruit.

A local resident Nguyen Khanh of Duc Dien Hamlet, Phu Dien District, said she had stopped growing pomelo to build rooms for students to rent, which had brought her a more steady income than the currently blighted pomelo orchards.

Use of pesticides totally unregulated in An Giang

With authorised agencies in An Giang failing to regulate the distribution of pesticides and other chemicals, farmers have been forced to fend for themselves, an agricultural official has admitted.

Doan Ngoc Pha, deputy director of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said farmers used chemicals to control plant diseases an average of 8.3 times a crop.

The market was flooded with thousands of chemical products but most farmers had little knowledge of their use, quality, or prices, he said.

There are 1,297 shops selling them but only 1 per cent of their owners have university degrees related to these subjects, while 20.5 per cent have intermediate level of agricultural or forestry education.

Though 78.5 per cent of the people registering for trading fertilisers and pesticides received training about them, few of them personally sell the products.

Poor monitoring means violations by traders in terms of quality or quantity are not checked, while testing centres in the province are snowed with work.

It takes the centres at least 15 days to test the quality of a product, Pha said.

Even if violations are detected, offenders get away with a slap on the wrist, he said.

Not surprisingly, 900 inspections done by the An Giang Province Market Watch team turned up 280 violations by traders.

There are several layers in the fertilisers and agricultural-chemical distribution system as a result of which the products’ prices increase by 30 and 40 per cent from the time they leave the factory gates, Pha said.

Farmers’ practice of buying on credit also contributes to increasing prices.

Dr Mai Anh Tuyet, member of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee said the poor monitoring of the trading and use of plant-protection chemicals is not confined to An Giang and plagues many other provinces too.

Since 1996 there have been 60 legal documents on the fertiliser industry alone, but most of them proved to be of little effect.

Int’l Trade Fair draws over 130,000 visitors
More than 135 trade contracts valued at VND85 billion, were signed during the 2010 International Trade Fair that concluded on September 3 in Can Tho city.

During the six-day event, the fair attracted over 130,000 international and domestic visitors.

The fair had 403 stalls representing 162 businesses from Ho Chi Minh City and the southern provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai, and Binh Duong and the central provinces of Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong and Binh Thuan.

There were also 400 stalls from foreign businesses from the US, Japan, mainland China, Indonesia and Taiwan.

On display were the latest information technology and pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, agricultural machines, medical equipment and garments and others.

Rice exports triple in price
In the first eight months of this year, Vietnam’s rice exports rose to 4.773.342 tonnes, worth US$2.037 billion, and the purchasing power in August reached three times the ceiling price, the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has reported.

In August, Vietnam exported 813.109 tonnes of rice, worth US$302.215 million, and in September it is expected to be 700.000-800.000 tonnes, said the VFA.

Rice exporters will not be short their products as the nation’s rice reserves by the end of the year will reach 1.5 million tonnes, said Nguyen Thanh Bien, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade at a meeting with the VFA on August 31.

Textile exports reach nearly US$6.9 billion
The turnover of textile exports in the first eight months reached nearly US$ 6.9 billion, an increase of 17.8 percent over the same period last year.

The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) has reported that August saw a record high at over US$1 billion.

The US remains Vietnam’s leading importer with an increasing of 20 percent to nearly US$4 billion compared with the same period last year, followed by Japan (15 percent), the Republic of Korea (80 percent) and several ASEAN countries (17 percent), while EU still hovers around two digit figures.

So far, almost Vietnamese textile businesses have filled their orders for 2010, and some have won new export contracts for next year.

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