Nestle changes growing habits of Vietnamese coffee farmers

By Bui Hong Nhung   April 8, 2016 | 04:32 pm GMT+7
Nestle, in cooperation with Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, has launched a two million euro (S2.3 million) project to change the irrigation methods used by farmers in the world's second largest coffee exporter.

Most Vietnamese growers use up to 60 percent more water than is required for their coffee plantations, said Truong Hong, deputy director of the Western Highland Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute. For each plant, they often use 700-1000 liters of water, while they should only need 340-400 liters.

In the context of the prolonged drought, this has a severe impact on the region's coffee output, Hong added.


Coffee plant

Nestle started implementing the project in five Central Highland provinces at the heart of Vietnam’s coffee region in April 2015. The project is scheduled to run until 2019.

In the last year, the project has supported 50,000 families in the Central Highlands. Each family has received financial as well as technical support from Nestle to invest in VND60 million automated sprinkler systems.

Hoang Manh Thu, a coffee grower in Dak Lak province, said his coffee output has jumped by 10 to 12 percent since he started using Nestle’s sprinkler system. In addition, he has saved a third on fertilizer that used to be washed away and halved costs for labor, electricity and fuel.

Pham Phu Ngoc, head of Nestle Vietnam's Central Highland branch, said that along with irrigation systems, Nestle has introduced new methods for coffee farmers to control the amount of water they use. For example, by placing a simple plastic bottle upside down on the ground and observing the water level, farmers are able to decide the amount of water they should use and when they should irrigate their crops.

Nestle has also been running another project called NESCAFE Plan since 2015 to support coffee recultivation activities by providing farmers in the region with coffee seeds and training.

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