Cocoa Development Centers in Vietnam – A Mars Signature Program to Support Farmers

Mars senior managers visit a cocoa farm in Vietnam

Hanoi, March 28th 2011: an innovative Public-Private Partnership Vietnam Networking Dinner was announced to support Vietnam in its’ development as a successful cocoa producing country. During a network dinner in the presence of HRH the Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and his spouse Maxima, a Letter of Intent was signed for a partnership between the Dutch and Vietnamese ministries of Agriculture, Rabobank, Cargill and Mars.

Cocoa in Vietnam – a win-win-win: Vietnam is one of the most promising cocoa producing countries in the Asian region, delivering good incomes on long term viable and sustainable small-holder cocoa farms, especially in the ‘Central Highlands’. The farmers win by diversifying their coffee farms, which have disease issues and irrigation issues to cocoa, which can thrive in this region; the governments wins through meaningful employment and the cocoa sector as an engine of rural development; and the industry wins with a supply of good quality cocoa beans. Mars and partners such as Cargill, Dutch Ministry of Agriculture and the USAID sponsored Success Alliance have worked in Vietnam for more than 10 years to create the conditions for a successful industry.

Why the Partnership? It is important that Vietnamese institutes have the capacity to support the growth of their own industry. The new PPP will focus on (i) engaging the Vietnamese ministry and department of Agriculture, (ii) the building of capacity in WASI (the coffee and cocoa research institute), (iii) the training of more farmers in agricultural skills and (iv) organization of farmer in groups to make certification by UTZ Certified easier.

Mars’ role in this PPP: Mars has worked very successfully in various partnerships in Vietnam for more than ten years, mostly focusing on plant breeding and product quality and safety, whilst our partners have focused on farmer training, plant propagation and building market infrastructure. We are entering a new and more mature stage for the Vietnamese cocoa industry and Mars adapts its’ contributions accordingly:

1. Cocoa Development Centers (a Mars signature program):  On these centers, global ‘Best Agronomic Practices’ are demonstrated and the site will provide ‘Training of Trainers’ in a small holder farmer environment. The centers will support Cocoa Village Clinics which are small businesses in nearby cocoa communities to bring high quality agronomic services and inputs closer to farmers. Details of activities:

  • Demonstrate and train for ‘Best Practices’
  • Train the trainers from institutes, companies and other organizations
  • Test and Evaluate promising planting material and new Good Agricultural Practices
  • Collaborate with SME to set up Cocoa Village Clinics and professional nurseries

2.  Support Science and Marketing:

  • Train more scientists in testing and evaluation of promising cocoa varieties
  • Build capacity for all relevant analytical procedures regarding to food quality and safety
  • Support expansion of UTZ Certified beans through purchase and marketing

 

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