In recent years Vietnam has, as predicted by SpillingTheBeans, successfully increased the production of Arabica coffee to over 1.2 million 60-kilogram bags. We are pleased to share one of our earlier reports in which we analyze the background and history for how this growth developed.
When Vietnam first announced plans for starting to expand the production of Arabica coffee in the late 1990s the news was received mostly as a joke in the market. But as the coffee industry at large since then has learned not to underestimate the possibilities of Vietnam actually walking the talk, the production of Arabica coffee has continued to grow steadily throughout the last decade, and toward the end of 2013 total output is seen approaching the 1 million bag figure for the first time.
BY MAJA WALLENGREN
In the 1986-87 crop cycle Vietnam entered for the first time the annual review of German Statistician F.O.Licht as an Arabica producer with 1,000 bags of 60 kilograms and since then slow but steady growth has seen the country consolidate its status as an Arabica coffee producing country.
Today Vietnamese Arabica production only accounts for about 3 percent of the South-East Asian giant’s total coffee output, but by the last 2011-12 crop cycle these three percent nevertheless placed Vietnam as the world’s 15th largest arabica producing country with 800,000 bags, and ahead of well-established and renown Arabica origins such as Kenya and Tanzania.
Arabica production in the current 2012-13 harvest is projected to reach 850,000 bags, according to the USDA’s latest attaché report, and by the end of the year when harvesting of the 2013-14 harvest has started the figure is seen approaching 1 million bags and continuing to increase.
The core-root of Vietnam’s coffee policies has always been cited as “social development” and when the government by 1999 officially launched the expansion plan for Arabica this was still cited as the main reason.
“The expansion of arabica coffee into the northern provinces has been a big focus for the government in order to help solve the socio economic problems of these areas as coffee was seen as a cash crop that could help increase the living standards for the ethnic minorities there,” Doan Trieu Nhan, the long-term chairman of Vicofa and the chief architect behind Vietnam’s coffee development, told Tea & Coffee in an interview.
Arabica coffee is not new to Vietnam. While cultivation of this coffee species today can be found in 18 of Vietnam’s 28 coffee growing provinces, when coffee first was introduced to Vietnam the seedlings initially planted in the southern province of Lam Dong and central province of Quang Tri was generic Arabica varieties such as Typica. And Arabica coffee has continued to be cultivated in these provinces ever since it was first introduced by French colonial settlers in 1856.
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