Challenges & Opportunities
Cocoa is a new crop in Vietnam so there is very little existing knowledge of or existing capacity for production. As a result, the SUCCESS Alliance program must establish credibility for itself and the crop in order for the farmers to wholeheartedly participate in its cultivation. In addition, the supply/value chain is in its initial stage, or infancy, so all aspects of this need to be established.
The Vietnamese have succeeded very well in growing other crops for export, and often they succeed too well by using intensive, high-input types of growing systems such as high chemical fertilizer usage and irrigation. For some crops, this resulted in a surge in production and a decline in prices, which in turn could no longer support the high level of inputs. Therefore the challenge the SUCCESS Alliance faces is to develop cocoa cultivation systems that are profitable and yet not propped up by a high-input growing system. Cropping systems that conserve soil moisture and also promote soil health are favored by the alliance.
As a new origin, Vietnam has the unique opportunity to focus on high-quality cocoa production systems from the very beginning. This includes quality planting material, selecting high-quality areas and favorable production systems for planting, and consistent fermentation. The SUCCESS Alliance works with farmers, government agriculture officers, researchers and industry to instill standards of quality in the cocoa production system. Due to the dearth of fermented cocoa beans of a suitable flavor profile being produced in Asia, the region is currently importing over 100,000 MT of fermented beans from West Africa. This offers a clear market opportunity for Vietnam’s farmers is supplying quality fermented bean.