Cocoa Project in Vietnam (Nong Lam University)
The Cocoa Project in Vietnam aims to increase local extension and technical support capacity and to promote cocoa among smallholder farmers. The project is currently active in the following 14 provinces: Ba Ria Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ben Tre, Can Tho, Dak Lak, Dong Nai, Dak Nong, Hau Giang, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, Phu Yen, Tien Giang, and Vinh Long.
Ongoing since 1997
To introduce cocoa clones to Vietnam for commercial planting and breeding
To establish demonstration plots in different agro-ecosystems to test cocoa’s adaptability
To promote cocoa as a new perennial crop suitable for smallholder farmers
To conduct research and technology transfer to local officials and farmers
To collaborate with local and international institutions to develop the cocoa sector
To build the capacity of young researchers and extension agents for the cocoa sector
Progress to Date:
Cocoa breeding program. The cocoa germplasm at Nong Lam University has 200 entries; 10 clones were approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for commercial use throughout the country. A microsatellite database was developed for 88 of the clones to facilitate easy identification of germplasm entries with selected characteristics. These 88 clones are being evaluating for resistance to black pod disease. A clonal trial with 64 clones was started in 2005. Multilocational trials are being established using 40 of 108 clones in the original trial. These trials will evaluate suitability of clones for different local growing conditions. In addition, the Cocoa Project participates in an Asia Pacific regional breeding program. Under this program, Nong Lam is conducting progeny trials using hybrid seeds received from participating countries, and sending locally selected clones to the other countries.
Cocoa sector development. On the local level, the project maintains demonstration plots in 8 provinces to teach farmers about cocoa and conduct experiments. Staff of Yersin University in Lam Dong were trained to establish a nursery and budwood garden. The team also participates in provincial agricultural fairs to provide information on producing cocoa locally. On the national level, Nong Lam University participates in Vietnam Cocoa Development Committee meetings and serves as vice chairman.
6,599 farmers and local officials trained. The Cocoa Project works with SUCCESS Alliance Vietnam (implemented by ACDI/VOCA) to train facilitators and farmers. The Cocoa Project also provides trainings and free consultancy to farmers living in areas that are not currently part of that program. Training topics include botany, vegetative propagation, nursery management, cultural management, irrigation, fertilizer use, and pest and disease control. The Project provides ongoing support through an informal cocoa “hotline” to answer questions from callers. Every year, the project supervises 3-5 students for their bachelor’s or master’s degree thesis projects on cocoa.
Post harvest and pest control research. Current research projects include: use of black ants and weaver ants to control Helopeltis; use of Vetiver grass to control termites; irrigation systems; incorporation of livestock into the farming system; and fermentation techniques suitable to the local environment. Centers of Excellence at Nong Lam University in Ho Chi Minh City (established in 1997) and in Dak Lak Province (established in 2002) are the main sites for training and research.
Nong Lam University