686,000 tonnes of coffee export in 1999-2000 crop

Ha Noi, Oct. 25 (VNA) - Viet Nam has exported 689,000 tonnes of coffee in the 1999-2000 crop (lasting from October, 1999 to September, 2000), 69 percent more than was exported from the previous crop.

This was announced at a conference to review coffee production and exports in the 1999-2000 crop and to work out strategies for the 2000-2001 crop and years to come. The conference was held in Ha Noi on Oct. 24 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Ministry of Trade and the Viet Nam Coffee and Cacao Association.

According to MARD, about 420,000 ha have been put under coffee cultivation, a crop-on-crop increase of 23,000 ha, yielding nearly 700,000 tonnes of coffee beans.

The achievement was attributed to farmers' investments in restoring land damaged by prolonged drought in 1998, favourable weather conditions, and the large amount of coffee yielded from 130,000 ha planted in the 1995-1996 crop.

Viet Nam's coffee has been exported to 54 countries and territories, including the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Poland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Austria, the Republic of Korea, Canada and the Netherlands.

Coffee is a major hard currency earner. It has an annual export value of USD 0.5 billion.

However, Viet Nam's coffee producers and businesses are facing great challenges as coffee prices keep falling on world markets. Domestic coffee prices have, as a result, fallen to between VND 7,300 and 8,000 per kg, the lowest in the past ten years.

To overcome such difficulties and challenges, the conference participants agreed on some strategies for coffee production in the 2000-2001 crop and years to come, including use of high-yielding coffee strains, promotion of intensive farming and greater investment in processing.

Coffee producers and business people at the conference agreed that Viet Nam, as an observer of the Association of Coffee Production Countries, should respond warmly to the Association's policy of keeping 20 percent of coffee output in reserve in order to maintain stability in coffee exports