In 2005, Buon Ma Thuot coffee – a product of Dak Lak province, was registered for ‘geographical indication’ protection under the Intellectual Property Law. The Ministry of Science and Technology recognized this via Decision 806/QD-SHTT dated October 14, 2005. Unfortunately now, three years later, Buon Ma Thuot coffee is not widely sought and has not been made popular through successful advertising.
In 1959, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia registered ownership of the fictitious persona Juan Valdez as part of the marketing strategy for its coffee products. Colombia is now a major exporter of raw coffee beans as is Brazil and Vietnam. Coffee processors that own strong brands such as Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Kraft and Sara Lee buy their raw coffee beans in bulk to obtain the lowest prices and maximize their profits. In general, coffee growers make little and their income is somewhat unpredictable due to fluctuating prices. Presently, 25 percent of the coffee that is exported from Vietnam is sold under the Nestle brand, almost all of that being robusta beans that is made into instant coffee.
Coffee production in Vietnam have never come under a general planning scheme and it’s been grown by farmers who are unfamiliar with what could be called ‘the art of growing coffee’. They grow rather small amounts of low quality robusta coffee. More than 80 percent of the coffee grown in Vietnam is grown by family farms and they don’t grow, harvest, dry or handle their coffee in a manner that could result in quality coffee by international standards. From the very beginning, in the 1990’s, coffee in Vietnam has not been grown with consideration for market demand, soil conditions, rainfall or other common business considerations. And cooperation between farmers and coffee processing companies is still lacking.
Between now and 2015, provincial planners say that the coffee growing area in Dak Lak is to be shrunk from 178,900ha to 140,000-150,000ha and an effort will be made to both improve quality and increase the yield. A new form of intensive farming technique is to be used by all of these farmers to raise the coffee harvest to at least 400,000 tonnes per year. According to this plan, 15-20 percent of the harvest is to be processed locally and the coffee sector is to grow 5-6 percent annually. Dak Lak provincial authorities are encouraging coffee growers to spend money to intensify farming to make coffee production sustainable. Coffee processing also needs to be expanded. According to the Dak Lak Agriculture and Rural Development Department, 178,900ha are now planted in coffee, 18,900ha more than in 2005 and the yield is 1.9-2 tonnes per hectare.
Besides reducing the growing area, improving quality and increasing the yield, Dak Lak provincial authorities also plan to encourage coffee growers and processors to follow coffee production plans when they are approved. The provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Department plans to work with the organizations concerned to make coffee growing improved and processing techniques known to coffee growers and processors./.