Government has endorsed a new National Sustainability Curriculum (NSC) for Arabica coffee in Vietnam, ending a long consultation process with multiple experts, governing bodies and independent reviewers and resulting in a vital tool to help boost production and quality of coffee in the country.
Thanks to the favourable conditions in the Northwest, Central and Central Highlands, production of Arabica coffee has increased considerably in recent decades and now represents almost 10% of total coffee area in Vietnam – from 30,000ha to 60,000ha since 2014. It follows Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) development strategy and policies to support coffee producers and other actors to improve the quality of Vietnamese coffee beans
“Coffee producers and coffee stakeholders were lacking a standardized curricular for sustainable Arabia coffee production. Instead, they were using manuals and guidelines developed for typical conditions of a specific region by the companies operating in the regions,” explains Trung Pham Quang, Program Manager Vietnam, GCP.
“Knowing the great demand of coffee producers and other stakeholders in enhancing sustainable production, GCP therefore in collaboration with Vietnam Coffee Coordination Board (VCCB) and other partners kicked off and facilitated the development of the NSC Arabica, including the hands-on practical training materials.”
The NSC provides standardized knowledge, good practices and information to producers, extension service, roasters, traders, and government, helping to improve both production and quality of Arabica coffee in the country. considered globally-agreed principles and practices for sustainable coffee production were considered through close examination of the GCP Baseline Coffee Code as a reference.
Critically, the curriculum will support coffee farmers to meet the requirements of good agricultural and post-harvesting practices of local and international markets, while also providing best practice for sustainable coffee production and climate change adaptation.
The new Arabica NSC follows the adoption of a NSC for Robusta, which was developed in partnership with GCP in 2018.
“We expect that by applying the knowledge and best practices introduced in the new NSC for Arabica coffee, farmers will increase production but also quality of coffee beans thus increase added value for the Vietnamese coffee sector.”Le Van Duc, Vice Co-chair of VCCB, Vice Director of Department of Crop Production of MARD.
Developing the NSC
The development of the NSC started in 2020 with a group of five senior coffee experts, followed by an independent review of 15 external Arabica coffee experts from both public and private sectors. The process has also included two multi-stakeholder consultation workshops and two trial trainings before being endorsed by MARD as the first official NSC for Arabica coffee. During the development process, coffee stakeholders were strongly engaged to review, provide inputs for expert to develop a practical, hands-on, user-friendly materials set.
The curriculum is the result of collaboration between GCP, the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam Coffee Coordination Board (VCCB), the Department of Crop Production (DCP), National Agricultural Extension Center, Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (WASI), Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Institute (NOMAFSI), Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Provincial Agricultural Extension Center of Son La, Dien Bien, Lam Dong, Quang Tri provinces, Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).
The NSC is expected to be used by professionals, senior experts, students in university in their research, meanwhile the associated training materials include The Sustainable Arabica Coffee Production Manual and poster set (designed for master trainers), The Sustainable Arabica Coffee Production Handbook (designed especially for producer) to be used by extension workers and coffee producers. This hands-on material set will provide practical knowledge and best practices for producers in coffee production and primary processing.