Assistance to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification
Vietnam is the world's second largest coffee bean producer after Brazil. About 30% of the coffee beans Kirin Group imported in 2019 were grown in Vietnam, which are used in Kirin FIRE . On the other hand, most coffee plantations in Vietnam are small, and there are some farmers who suffer from reduced yields, or end up using more chemical fertilizers than necessary, because they cannot improve their traditional farming methods due to a lack of appropriate educational opportunities. In 2019, we conducted a scenario analysis of the impacts of climate change in 2050 and 2100 and found that coffee bean yields will likely be significantly affected in many countries and regions. To enhance the sustainability of agricultural production regions together with the farms and ensure the stable use of high-quality ingredients in the future, the Kirin Group decided to extend support for obtaining Rainforest Alliance certification, which we have long been providing to tea farms in Sri Lanka, to the coffee plantations in Vietnam starting in 2020.
In 2020, we are supporting small plantations in Da Lat Province in south-central Vietnam, which is the largest coffee bean producing region in Vietnam. With an altitude of about 500 meters and an average temperature of around 25 to 27 °C, this area is said to be suitable for coffee cultivation. The majority of local plantations are small with a cultivation area of about 1 to 1.2 ha. Since small plantations do not have adequate educational opportunities, it is difficult for them to improve cultivation methods on their own.
For example, many farmers cut down trees in the plantation believing that more sunlight will increase productivity. However, in reality, severe sunlight will exhaust coffee trees and drain fertile soil when it rains heavily. Training to support plantations in obtaining certification includes teaching them the benefits of planting acacia and fruit trees as shade trees to protect coffee trees from strong sunlight and heavy rain, as well as to maintain soil moisture and reduce irrigation water during the dry season. Shade trees also bring extra income to small plantations. In addition, by learning to appropriately use the minimum necessary amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, plantations will be able to conserve soil functions and reduce the cost of purchasing them, thereby increasing profits and also protecting workers' health.
Supporting small plantation owners in attaining various knowledge on agriculture and acquiring certification in this way contributes to improving their capabilities and enabling farmers to increase their agriculture level by becoming able to more rationally use natural resources and flexibly respond to environmental changes such as climate change while reducing production costs and increasing the quality of their coffee.
Major activities scheduled for 2020
- Analysis of conditions at small plantations by Rainforest Alliance agronomists and formulation of action plans.
- Grouping small plantations and selecting leaders.
- Training on sustainable agriculture for group leaders.
- Training for small plantations by trained leaders.
- Self-assessments by groups followed by development and implementation of improvement plans.