Event 12 February 2024
New varieties to rejuvenate coffee growing in northwestern Vietnam
"Coffee growing in Vietnam dates back around thirty years. The varieties grown are no longer suitable in view of the climate change expected in the coming years", says Pierre Marraccini, a CIRAD researcher specializing in coffee. By 2025, half of the 20 000 ha of coffee plantings in northwestern Vietnam will have to be replanted.
Since 2017, CIRAD has been working with Vietnamese and European research organizations to test new Arabica coffee varieties (F1 hybrids) in the mountains of Son La and Dien Bien provinces (BREEDCAFS H2020 project). Those new varieties, which were initially bred and popularized in Central America, should allow the coffee sector in Vietnam to adapt to climate change and boost coffee quality.
The varieties tested were chosen to be grown in agroforestry systems, which consist in mixing crops and trees within plots. "The trees provide the coffee plants with shade, replicating the conditions in which coffee used to grow in its zone of origin, and this is an asset in view of recent climate change", Pierre Marraccini explains. Agroforestry also boosts soil fertility and helps to maintain biodiversity, capture carbon and cut input use. For producers, it also provides additional income, from the timber or fruits produced by the trees.
"The F1 hybrids Mundo Maya H16, Centroamericano H1 and Starmaya consistently gave high yields under an agroforest cover, while Catimor yields fell", said Clément Rigal, a CIRAD researcher specializing in agroforestry, at the presentation on 6 June at the French Embassy. "The new varieties are largely suitable for northwestern Vietnam, and particularly for mountain zones. They are more vigorous than Catimor and produce better coffee."
The results presentation was followed by a tasting session, with five samples of beans harvested from the experimental plots planted in Son La in 2018. "Thanks to their taste, these varieties have considerable potential to boost the quality of the coffee produced in northwestern Vietnam" said Paul Le, Vice-President of Central Retail, who came specially from Ho Chi Minh City to taste the new varieties.
For Dao The Anh, Vice-President of VAAS (Vietnamese Agricultural Academy of Sciences), "This is a great opportunity for us to replace old coffee varieties with the new hybrids developed by CIRAD". In addition to better cup quality, the new varieties also guarantee fairer prices for producers.
Funding for the introduction and monitoring of these new varieties has been provided by the European Union through the BREEDCAFS project (from 2017 to 2022), and by the European Union and AFD through the ASSET project (as of 2021).
The Vietnamese partners at the presentation included:
- NOMAFSI (Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute)
- AGI (Agricultural Genetics Institute)
- VAAS (Vietnamese Agricultural Academy of Sciences)
- ECOM/SMS (Ho Chi Minh)
- DETECH (Son La)
- Phuc Sinh (Son La)