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To inspire and build the capacity of these farmer groups and cooperatives, SNV organized a three-day study tour to learn from more established and successful coffee agroforestry models and cooperatives in neighboring Dak Lak and Ninh Thuan provinces in collaboration with IDH and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Lac Duong district. This was a truly memorable trip for the participants creating many new experiences and bonding with each other.

The journey started on the 14th of October 2020, with 42 participants including farmer leaders, village heads, cooperatives and government extension services. Despite the six-hour drive on the road from Lac Duong to Buon Ma Thuot city (Dak Lak) and a few car-sickness cases, the journey was filled with jokes and peals of laughter.

In the afternoon of the first day, the group had a chance to visit the Xuan Hoa machinery factory, which is well-known for its coffee pulping machines. The participants were able to gain an overview of which machines could be suitable for Lac Duong’s production conditions and scale. 13 out of 15 Café REDD+ farmer groups requested buying pulping machines because the ability to process coffee can strengthen the groups, allow them to add value to their production and secure the continuity of the groups.

Healthy coffee farms in Krong Nang district

The group traveled to Krong Nang district (Dak Lak) on the following day where they were hosted by the local government representatives and Ea Tan Coffee Cooperative and introduced to Ea Tan’s sustainable coffee agroforestry farming system. The visit was an eye-opening experience for Lac Duong farmers, as they could witness the healthy coffee farms intercropped with fruits tree (such as avocados and durians, covered by mulch, and absent from herbicides or overuse of agrochemicals. These agroforestry practices have not only reduced the soil degradation and pest susceptibility that arises from mono-cropping but also enhanced Ea Tan’s farmer’s income. Ea Tan farmers also shared how they coped with the difficulties in transitioning from a heavily agrochemical-dependent system to a reduced agrochemical system at the beginning. This sharing motivated Lac Duong farmers in adopting this practice, as they already have a natural advantage with suitable agro-ecological conditions to intercrop Arabica with valuable species such as macadamia or persimmon.

Successful lessons on agricultural value chains from the Cham people

The last day of the study tour took place at Evergreen Grape Cooperative and Tuan Tu Asparagus Cooperative in Ninh Thuan province. Both cooperatives are well-established and have a clearly defined structure and good production and business operation. The majority of Tuan Tu cooperative members are from the Cham ethnic minority group and the cooperative has been supported by SNV under the FLOW/EOWE project (https://snv.org/project/enhancing-opportunities-womens-enterprises-eowe). The cooperative faced a lot of difficulties at its inception relating to the roles and responsibilities of the management board and the members, and its ability to create a profit. Many questions and answers were exchanged between the delegates and Tuan Tu cooperative management board during the visit.

For Evergreen Cooperative, a well-integrated grape value chain has been developed. A diverse range of products such as fresh and dried grapes, grape wine and vinegar is sold under different product lines and brands. It was a great chance for Lac Duong farmer leaders to learn and adapt to the development of their value chains and products. Mrs. Lieng Jrang K’Cham, a young K’ho entrepreneur who is also a village head of our Café REDD project, was strongly inspired by the success stories from the cooperatives visited during the study tour, and with strong support from the local government, is now under consideration to be the leader of a cooperative in Da Sar. Cil Ha Nien, a young leader of Chappi Cooperative in Da Chais commune also had a great lesson learned from successful cooperative models.

The Café REDD project team would like to express sincere thanks to the PPI compact program of IDH, the Ea Tan cooperative at Krong Nang district, Tuan Tu cooperative, and Evergreen cooperative in Ninh Thuan for their hospitality and professional organization.

In 2020 the Café REDD project has been working hard on the establishment of 15 farmer groups and strengthening the existing cooperative in Lac Duong district. This is intending to professionalize coffee production towards better quality coffee and higher income for farmers, supporting the ultimate goal of enhancing forests and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The project has supported these groups and cooperative through training, tree seedlings for intercropping, and micro-organic fertilizers for sustainable coffee production. Together with coffee processing companies like Tam Trinh, The Married Beans, K’Ho coffee and Chappi Mountain coffee the project is developing inclusive coffee value chains for the district.

The group visited a coffee farm in Krong Nang district, Dak Lak province

The group visited the new watering model of Cham people in Tuan Tu cooperative

Expert

Pham Thanh Nam

CAFÉ-REDD Project Manager