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US to aid Vietnam cocoa


Vietnam's burgeoning cocoa industry received a significant boost last week after the US government confirmed it would provide $4 million (€3.4m) in development aid.

The move comes after concerted efforts by the Vietnamese government to diversify the country's agricultural produce.

Vietnam is a major coffee producer, and wants to become less reliant on one cash crop.

Earlier in the week, the chairman of the country's Coffee Cocoa Association said that Vietnam plans to expand its cocoa growing area to 100,000 hectares by 2010.

Reuters reports that under the initiative, soy meal bought in 2004 from US farmers by the US government will be shipped to Vietnam and sold locally.

It is estimated that this will raise around €3.4 million.

The money will then be used to develop Vietnam's cocoa industry over the following three years.

The programme will be supervised by ASDI/VOCO, an American NGO that specialises in food-aid development programmes.

Other organisations involved include Vietnam's University of Agriculture and Forestry, the World Cocoa Foundation and the American Institute of Cocoa Research.

This is the first US programme to fund cocoa development in Vietnam.

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