5 Key Learnings from the Data Collection Pilot in Vietnam

After interviewing 8,800 households inthe central highlands of Vietnam, the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) identified several opportunities to improve and ways to overcome data collection challenges.

In 2018, GCP announced the implementation of a measurement pilot in Vietnam, using GCP Progress as its measurement tool. This pilot assessed how Vietnamese coffee farmers understand and adopt good practices of sustainable coffee production. This ambitious journey has produced many learnings and findings which led to new activities and improved existing ones within the agenda of the country. Instrumental to this was the support of the local government and the National Coffee Platform, along with its members and partners.

A short review on the pilot

A group of 200 enumerators conducted field visits in 5 weeks using the mobile web application GCP Progress (powered by KIAG). The extensive survey captured data regarding the adoption of National Sustainability Curriculum (NSC) in farming practices and the status of common indicators contained in the Sustainability Progress Framework. They gathered data on about 16,000 plots with a total area of 10,000 hectares, 10.3 million plants (Coffee and side crops) and around 30,000 people among the 8,800 surveyed households.

After intensive analysis and discussions with local stakeholders, these are the 5 key findings from the measurement pilot in Vietnam.

Efficient water usage is a priority for farmers

30% of the coffee farms depend on underground water (drill wells) for irrigation. 5% of the coffee farms need to invest for replanting coffee trees. Since the coffee business grew intensively between the 70’s and the 90’s, the average number of productive coffee trees is comparably low. This is due to missing awareness for regularly replacing old trees to increase productivity over time. The situation hasn’t change significantly in the last years and now farmers need to invest more on their farms.

Organic fertilizer is necessary but currently unpopular

The application of organic fertilizer to lower production costs and contribute to soil protection is a crucial element of best farming practices included by the NSC. However, many producers in Vietnam are still hesitant to take an extra effort to properly prepare and apply organic and micro-biologic fertilizers. This indicates a demand for further trainings and knowledge building on better fertilization and soil conservation practices.

High demand for hired labor

The number of family labor on Vietnam’s central highland’s farms is comparably low, looking at the average size of farming area and respective labor demand. To cover the higher demand for production, many farmers need to invest more financial resources for hired labor, which influences the income situation.

There is room for improvement in shade tree coverage

The average coverage of shade trees necessary to increase coffee tree’s productivity is under 4% across the whole survey area of 5 communes in Di Linh, Lam Dong, Vietnam. This issue is currently being address within the country by identifying opportunities to support access to finance for farmers and providing trainings on best practices.

High irrigation of crops

55% of the producers in the surveyed area apply 20% more than the average amount of water recommended by the NSC and its best practices. On the other hand, 20% of the producers can’t access to water sources for irrigation, which leads to high investments on creating ponds and wells to support irrigation. A shared water management system is necessary to, for example, create pump stations to simultaneously support several producers from natural sustainable water sources for their irrigation.

How is the Vietnamese coffee sector reacting to these findings?

As an immediate reaction, the following collaborative activities are already planned or and some are taking place among the local government, Department of Plant Protection (DPP), WASI, MARD, IDH Sustainable Trade, the traders ACOM and Louis Dreyfus and other several GCP partners:

  • Training for producers on organic fertilization, soil conservation and inter-cropping to avoid soil contamination and exhaustion over time. As well as trainings for shade tree planting and irrigation practices.
  • Supporting producers with seedlings for replanting and replacement of old unproductive trees
  • Funding support for producers to better invest into their shade tree coverage.
  • Capacity building for local authorities to increase their staffing with the intention to create an enabling environment in small landscapes, establishing a collaborative approach, where producers and other supply-chain actors can better support each other.
  • Further investments in mini landscapes for pond creation to support irrigation and for establishing more producer cooperation for increased access to markets.

The Global Coffee Platform invites potential partners and members to contribute to the current work in Vietnam and urges the coffee sector to advance with concrete actions towards a long-lasting collective approach to help coffee farmers and business thrive.

Contact Caroline Glowka to identify the best engagement opportunity in Vietnam for you.

Contact Andreas Terhaer to discover more findings from this measurement initiative.