Cocoa in Vietnam: A Success Story
Entry: Chow Boi Yee
Greetings. My name is Chow Boi Yee, and I have been working in the cocoa and confectionery industry for many years. Over the last three days, I was in Vietnam touring some of the sustainable cocoa program sites. It was a very pleasant experience for me, after having last been to Vietnam cocoa fields some three years ago. I could not believe what I saw, practically all the projections – hectareage, volume, quality - are all falling into place. I saw pods all over the collecting stations and the fermented boxes were full of beans.
Collecting stations displayed signboards of prices of beans and pods. The beans on the drying yards were clean and practically no wastes. All the best practices are being implemented. The previously new planting areas are coming into production, and production is up by leaps and bound, with the latest number touching 1,200 tonnes beans by year end. I heard that some of the production is being used as high quality, fully fermented beans to produce liquor. We also visited the Success Alliance office where Lam and Hyuen briefed us with confidence on the work in Dak Lak. Looks like more happenings to happen. Great stuff!!
So I want to congratulate World Cocoa Foundation and Mars for having the vision, the courage, and the patience to do origin development work in Vietnam 13 year ago, despite all odds. This is a great story.
Looking back, I think the success comes about because all the vital ingredients are in place: the leaders (World Cocoa Foundation and Mars) and the technical experts (David Lim, Smilja Lambert), the local committed personnel (Dr Phuoc, Lam, provincial government), the right technology (Best practice cocoa from agronomy, genetics to fermentation), the funding (World Cocoa Foundation, USAID, USDA), the scaling up enabler (Success Alliance), the traders to provide price discovery and logistics support (Cargill, Armajaro, Olam) and last but not least - the entrepreneurial farmers. If anyone of those ingredients had been missing, I dare say we would not see today's success. The other fortunate aspect is the relatively low volatility of cocoa prices - compared to coffee, fruits, cashews, and pepper. Many farmers are happy that cocoa helps to mitigate the lower prices of other commodities.
I hope that WCF will continue with their support for this important initiative in Vietnam. Keep up the great work!!
All the best,