Lam Dong: Exploiting Potential from Tea Plants

3:09:09 PM | 18/5/2009

Among leading provinces in terms of tea plants cultivation areas in Vietnam, Lam Dong is a typical example. Favoured with fertile land, harmonious climate and an above sea level of 800 – 1,000m, Lam Dong’s tea products are nice, aromatic and sweet-tasting. In the last few years, the province has reserved all the best conditions to attract local and foreign investors to build and develop tea material zones and tea manufactures within the province.
As a plant of hunger eradication and poverty alleviation
Tea plants have been long determined as plants serving hunger eradication, poverty alleviation and a livelihood for farmers as well as one of the key industrial plants in the market economy. The province possesses a cultivation area of about 25,000 hectares. The area serving business operation is 23,791 hectares, providing an annual supply of 183,571 tonnes to both local and foreign markets, accounting for 25 percent in terms of area and 27 percent in term of output of the country’s tea production. Lam Dong tea has been a favorite for a long time with well-known brands of Tam Chau, Le Ky and Quoc Thai, etc… Lam Dong has also provided famous high-quality tea products accepted by tea gourmets such as Black Dragon Brown Tea, green tea and black tea… Tea plants are mainly raised in Bao Loc, Bao Lam and Di Linh in Lam Dong. However, many tea plants in these regions which were raised in the 20s of the last decade have been getting old and have been creating low output. In the last few years especially since 2002, Lam Dong has through tea plant development support projects and programmes focused on expanding tea cultivation area, speeding up the “tea seeding revolution,” improving high productivity and high quality tea gardens and step-by-step building a safe and clean tea material zone. The province’s re-cultivated area has so far accounted for 32 percent of the total area with 6,340 hectares of high productivity tea plants and 2,075 hectares of high quality Taiwanese Black Dragon Brown Tea plants. Under the Project on Tea Material Zone Development till 2020, Lam Dong shall increase its tea cultivation area to 28,000 hectares, 55 percent of which is reserved for high productivity and high quality tea plants. The province shall, under the same project, carry out a series of tea garden improvement projects.
Nevertheless, Lam Dong achieved an average tea production of only 7.5 tonnes in 2008 while there is no improvement in the tea quality; export tea has low quality and not yet found a stable position in the international market. 26,000 hectares of tea in Bao Loc, Bao Lam and Di Linh creates jobs for around 130,000 laborers (over 10 percent of the province’s population). The living standard of tea raisers and the development of tea plants have always been closely attached to the trade mark and position of tea products in the market. It is now irrefutable to develop high productivity and high quality tea material areas, to encourage the strict application of quality control procedures in businesses and to build a brand for tea plants. Those activities have received high attention from the province’s authority to make comprehensive development from seeding to cultivation. According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Lam Dong, the quality must be much better for tea products to stand in such a high competition of the market. To achieve this, it is necessary to change the seeding and apply GAP tea safety production technology in all farming households. Most farmers in Bao Lam district, one of the leading districts in tea planting of Lam Dong with more than 13,000 hectares of raising area, are planting the traditional bud tea which is low in productivity and poor in quality.
Tea plants help foster tourism
Lam Dong is famous for tourism and embroidering. However, in the last few years, thanks to the rocketing revenue from tea plants, planting tea has become the second leading industry in the province. In addition to its economic aspect, tea plants have helped foster other industries. According to the People’s Committee of Lam Dong, the province has acknowledged the potentials for export and investment attraction as well as for tourism promotion of tea plants in this highland province. The combination between different types of tourism and Vietnamese Tea Culture is a new direction in the province. The model of tea ecological tourism shall be introduced for the first time in Lam Dong. At the time being, the biggest tea shops of Southeast Asia are in Lam Dong to serve tourists.
In order to bring Vietnam tea brand to the world, the Vietnam Tea Association has cooperated with the People’s Committee of Lam Dong to hold a Tea Festival for the purpose of introducing Vietnamese tea to tourists in and outside Vietnam. Tea culture shall be exploited in parallel with tourism. And this shall be a chance for tourists to visit the second biggest tea planting province of the country. A Tea Culture Festival is held every December 21 to 24 in Dat Lat city and Bao Loc town with series of ebullient activities, such as: Exhibitions to introduce tea culture; Da Lat Orchids Exhibition, Da Lat Trade and Tourism Fair Winter 2006, Famous Tea Festival; Street march to praise famous tea brands, the tea quality contest with the award of Golden Tea Branch and the Tea culture contest. In the said activities, you may have the chance to contemplate the ways of making different kinds of tea of Vietnamese people and to enjoy free of charge the taste of Bao Loc tea in Lam Dong as well as other kinds of tea nationwide. In addition to the purpose of introducing the image, information and knowledge about tea plants and tea culture which have closely been attached to the life of Lam Dong people, the Festival has created a young, hot and modern atmosphere for tourists during Christmas time.
Minh Diep