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Clean tea manufacturing: Benefits for farmers.

(www.baothainguyen.org.vn) Currently, Dai Tu district has 3 tea-manufacturing cooperatives that can achieved the Vietnam Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) standards. They are: “11” hamlet of Tan Linh commune, Van Long hamlet of Hung Son commune and Phuong Dong cooperative of Lung 1 hamlet of Phu Lac commune. 3 months after being granted the certificate for clean tea, farmers have clearly realized the benefits from the clean tea model and are determined to maintain and expand it.

Phuong Dong tea cooperative management checks the manufacturing process of commune member Tran Huu Quyet.

Phuong Dong tea cooperative management checks on manufacturing process of commune member Tran Huu Quyet.
We come to Phuong Dong tea cooperative in the early spring, when the hill is blossoming with tea plants. Mr. Tran Trung Tan, director of the cooperative said that: “After the cooperative was awarded with the VietGAP certificate and especially after the “Dai Tu” tea festival, we have received many orders to buy tea. Most recently, we have signed a contract with the Online Marketing Union Joint Stock Company – Ha Noi Branch (head office is in Phu Nhuan district, Ho Chi Minh city)”. At the same time, the cooperative also opened additional 20 tea stores in Ha Noi and some neighboring areas”. According to Mr. Tan, the fact that tea is packed in vacuum-bags plus the quality ensured by the VietGAP certificate have led to a considerable rise in the tea price; the average price of the cooperative’s tea lies between 20,000 to 50,000 VND per kilogram, which is much higher than ordinary tea. Alongside with the Phuong Dong tea cooperative, 2 other clean tea cooperatives in Tan Linh and Hung Son communes have also improved their sales significantly. When participating in the VietGAP tea model, the cooperatives are supported by the project to buy the vacuum machine, which will help preserve the quality and flavor of the tea for a longer time.
Mr. Tran Khac Tu, member of the VietGap tea cooperative in “11” hamlet, Tan Linh commune said that: “The tea produced by my family is packed by using the vacuum machine. The brand name and the manufacturers name are printed on every bag of tea. By doing that, all the frequent customers of my family now believe more in the quality of the tea and accept the VND 50,000/kg increase in price”. He also said that: “The demand for the tea still remains very high even after Tet. His family currently sells tea with the prices ranging from 170,000 to 220,000 VND per kilogram. After sometime applying the new manufacturing method, people have clearly seen the advantages of it like: more profit for farmers, safer and cleaner environment. This makes everybody determined to pursue and expand the method. A typical example can be seen in the clean tea manufacturing cooperative of Tan Linh commune which includes 56 families planting tea over the area of 18,26 ha. It is a small area and a large quantity of families so at first the communication and management encounter a lot of difficulties. Mr. Nguyen Van Dinh, leader of the cooperative said that: “At first, we struggled with many difficulties with regards to management but afterwards; we organized a meeting to create regulations to supervise the practices in the community. These regulations were agreed upon and are being strictly followed by all members of the cooperative. Since then, all members of the cooperative always follow the VietGAP standards when they manufacture, preserve and sell tea. Understanding the advantages in manufacturing and selling tea, farmers currently have changed their way of thinking about cultivating methods and now apply modern technology in the manufacturing process. Mr. Hoang Van Nhan, member of the VietGap tea manufacturing cooperative of Van Long hamlet, Hung Son commune said that: “My family has been cultivating tea for about 60 years from my grandfather’s generation. In the past, my family cultivated tea only based on the inherited experience from my ancestors. When participating in the VietGAP model, my family was invited to attend the techniques-lecturing-class. In that class, whenever I encounter any difficulties, an agricultural officer helped me to overcome it by carefully instructing me on what to do. At first, I found this method really complicated and it contains many steps like: processing fertilizer before fertilizing complicated irrigation techniques and so on. However after some time, I have clearly seen the results. Both my efficiency and the quality of the tea have increased considerably. Additionally, the new method also helps me to save fertilizer, water and pesticide. Last year, my family made 1.5 tons of dried tea from 0.7 ha area which generated an income of VND 300.000.000.

However, apart from the benefits, the VietGAP tea model also has some disadvantages that should be solved soon such as: Small market, many customers do not aware about the clean tea brand so some families still are not able to sell tea with higher price. In order to get the VIetGap certificate, firstly farmer has to record the production figures in a log on a periodically basis. Then these figures are evaluated by experts to ensure that the tea has an acceptable quality. However, farmers still occasionally forget to write down information in the farmer’s log so the needed information must be estimated sometimes.
Talking about the VietGap tea model, Mr. Le Thanh Son, manager of Dai Tu district’s Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry said that: We have paid a lot of attention to the VietGAP model and have directed officers to technically support farmers and answer any questions that they may have. The district is also applying many solutions in order to improve quality of and solve the current problems that VietGAP tea model might have. In this year, Dai Tu continues to expand the clean tea model to 2 communes namely: Phu Xuyen and La Bang. Dai Tu commune is trying to have at least 100 ha tea satisfying the VietGAP standard by the end of this year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      (Quoc Tuan)