- Robusta coffee is grown in Southern Vietnam as it is well suited to the hot and humid weather conditions. It is mostly grown on small, family-run farms of two to five acres.
- Due to Vietnam experiencing remarkable growth in its coffee industry during a relatively short period of time it has had serious environmental impacts, highlighting the need to make the industry’s agricultural practices more sustainable.
- The coffee harvest season runs from late October to early January in Vietnam’s central highlands.
Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam by French colonists in 1857. In 1980, Vietnam had about 22,500 hectares planted with coffee of which only half was productive and its total production was only 8,400 tonnes. The 1990s saw phenomenal growth in the area planted with coffee, export driven by the high coffee prices that prevailed until 2000, making Vietnam the world’s second largest producer country after Brazil. Coffee has seen a dramatic rise in production, with coffee now one of Vietnam’s key export commodities, generating an income of over $1.5 billion (US).
However, the proliferation of poorly managed coffee farms, where beans are cultivated with disregard for the environment, has given rise to pollution, habitat destruction and soil and water degradation as well as a significant loss of biodiversity. To counter these problems, the Rainforest Alliance has been working with some of Vietnam’s leading coffee exporters, helping them transform the crop’s production and ensure that it is being managed sustainably, benefiting both workers and the environment.
In accordance with Vietnamese law and the SAN standard, workers and farmers must be well paid, but certified coffee commands an even higher price than what these farmers had been receiving previously. Now these communities are able to invest further in the education of their children as well as provide them with up-to-date books and better quality school supplies.
Previously, wildlife conservation efforts in the area were very poor; any birds or reptiles spotted on coffee farms would have been eaten or ended up in cages. Now, as a result of becoming certified and learning about sustainability, farmers understand the importance of looking after the wildlife that surrounds them; birds help control harmful pests, and snakes consume rats that might otherwise eat the coffee berries before they can be picked.
Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee farms cover 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) and are owned by 559 farmers in Vietnam. The farmers have reduced their use of agrochemicals, are separating their farm waste rather than burning it or letting it pile up around the edges of their properties, and they’ve learned about the benefits of local wildlife.
Workers and their families have access to decent housing and health care, and children are able to attend school.