Vietnam is halfway through its 2003 programme of cocoa plantation.
Hoang Thanh Tiem, the director of the Agro-Forestry Scientific and Technical Institute in Daklak, told a Reuters reporter: "The target by the end of this year is to achieve 500 hectares of cocoa."
The cocoa planting initiative is part of the country's attempts to diversify its crops. Vietnam, famed for its quality coffee production, wants to become less reliant on the commodity. The country plans to have 10,000 hectares of cocoa plantation by 2008.
As in other parts of the developing world, coffee farmers in Vietnam have continually suffered as the price of coffee has continued to decline.Coffee prices fell to a 30-year low in 2002.
Some experts believe that overproduction by Vietnam, which emerged in the 1990s as the world's second biggest coffee producer after Brazil, has been partly to blame for creating this situation.
However, the diversification programme has faced some opposition from traditional coffee-growing farmers who question the wisdom of changing crops.
Some are worried about whether there is a viable market for the cocoa, and whether the market would be stable.
The Vietnamese government has tried to reassure them by establishing links with prospective buyers, including US confectioner M&M.
It is also trying to encourage cocoa growers by offering them cheap land to grow the crop.