My name is Nguyen Van Quyet and I’m a coffee farmer from Di Linh, Lam Dong province. I started planting coffee 20 years ago when it became clear that growing only vegetables can’t provide sufficient income for my family. Back in the day some newcomer farmers tried to plant coffee in our area but the French were convinced that the land was not suitable for coffee. However after some experiments it was proved that coffee grows very well here. Unlike the lands around Da Lat, which are more favorable for Arabica coffee, our soil in Duc Trong and down to Bao Loc area turned out to be highly suitable for Robusta. The government started a nursery to sell plants to farmers who later produced more seeds and spread the plants all over the region.
It wasn’t easy to start a coffee plantation quarter-century ago. One needed some capital to invest in seeds and to prepare the land. We didn’t have machines such as tractors, so it was all about backbreaking manual labor. These days it’s much faster and simpler. Selling coffee beans has never been a problem.
The only thing that worries farmers is prices: one year they skyrocket, the next year they plunge – there is no stability.
A few years ago prices fell dramatically and only slightly recovered by the last year, so farmers’ income is still quite low. The yields are often unstable due to extreme weather – heat waves in summer, lack of water for irrigation, and so on. Intercropping with avocado and pepper helps me to secure my income.
About 7 years ago my fellow villagers told me about HRNS Farmer Field School. It was free and open for everyone. Every time after attending a workshop I tried to implement those techniques in my own coffee field. It took time and practice of course, but I have to admit that before joining the project I had been blind about coffee growing despite years of experience – just like other farmers. It’s no longer trial and error, I know exactly what I’m doing and how it’s going to impact my yields.
Now I know when and how to do pruning, I understand why I should go check my plants every day during the blooming stage, how to identify developing of diseases and what action to take in each case. My irrigation became more rational and I’m confident using right fertilizers in the right time.
FFS changed my approach to farming. I can’t think of any single aspect of coffee growing that wasn’t covered in the workshops
As coffee farmers, we have to keep learning. I monitor my garden, analyze the data, and act accordingly. The result is increasing yields, improved income and my own satisfaction. At the moment, my business development is only limited by the size of my land. I think I’m getting maximum out of it. If I could get extra land I would definitely make a good profit out of it.