Lam Dong: Elevating the Position of Vietnamese Tea

10:30:45 PM | 6/11/2011

Lam Dong province is the largest and oldest tea grower in Vietnam. Fertile soil, suitable climate and particularly terrain advantages (800 - 1,000 metres above the sea level) have provided ideal conditions for the province to grow the best tea. On the occasion of the first International Tea Festival to be held in Vietnam, Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr Nguyen Xuan Tien, Chairman of Lam Dong Provincial People’s Committee, to provide deeper insight into the potential, advantages, identities and flavours of Lam Dong tea; and policies and legal corridor for tea industry development. Ngo Hoang reports.
What is your opinion about the position of Lam Dong tea on the Vietnamese tea development map?
Lam Dong is endowed with natural advantages like climate for mass tea production which enables the province to easily apply advanced technologies. As a result, the province is the largest tea producer in the country.
Currently, Lam Dong is tending 23,535 hectares of tea, accounting for 20 percent of the country’s total acreage. In 2010, it produced over 204,000 tonnes of fresh tea buds and exported 10,000 tonnes. The average yield is 8.97 tonnes per hectare, higher than the national average of 6.8 tonnes.
Its soil and climate advantages in combination with traditional farming practices have created a competitive edge in quality. Lam Dong tea has been extended to many markets in the world like North America, India, Russia, Pakistan, Taiwan, Iraq, Japan and Singapore.
With such potential and advantages, what has Lam Dong province done to develop the Lam Dong tea brand on international markets?
To cash in on the advantages of local tea, Lam Dong province has adopted many policies and programmes in an effort to enhance the competitiveness of Lam Dong tea products on the market.
First, defining that tea is a primary crop to be applied agricultural high-tech, the province will gather all available resources to invest and enhance yield, quality and value.
Second, investing to support the shift to high-yield, high-quality tea.
Third, improving tea quality by supporting producers applying new farming technologies; encouraging tea growers to apply manufacturing and processing standards like VietGAP and GlobalGAP.
Fourth, attracting domestic and foreign enterprises to invest in advanced manufacturing and processing technologies to create high quality products to meet demanding requirements in upscale markets.
Fifth, investing in production infrastructure for centralised tea areas: roads, watering systems, power systems, etc.
Sixth, investing in building geographic indication of “Blao tea” for local tea products like Bao Loc and Lam Bao; in the coming time, more geographic indications will be built for other teas like Cau Dat and Da Lat City.
Seventh, Lam Dong province has hosted three Tea Cultural Festivals since 2006 with the aim of introducing and upholding Lam Dong tea products, calling for more investment into tea production and trading, creating opportunities for local tea companies to access advanced sciences, technologies and techniques, building up brand names and expanding markets.
Eighth, stepping up trade promotion and popularity of Lam Dong tea by means of mass media, tea fairs, exhibitions and festivals at home and abroad
Many localities are successfully utilising ADB and AFD funds for tea development. How have such funds been used in the province? How will Lam Dong attract ODA capital to its key tea projects?
International funds play a very important role in tea development in addition to local resources to accomplish strategic objectives.
The province is carrying out the ADB-funded Quality and Safety Enhancement of Agricultural Products and Biogas Development Project (QSEAP) and the WB-funded Agricultural Competitiveness Project. The province has achieved initial results. It has zoned out safe tea production areas of 20,000 hectares, supported farmers to replace with new tea varieties and register product quality, and built infrastructure to serve production activities.
According to the tea development orientation, Lam Dong province will seek more ODA capital to build infrastructure systems to boost production activities, enhance the capacity of production management and organisation, and improve processing technologies.
A number of provinces and cities are focusing on drawing foreign investment capital to develop material zones and processing activities. What policies does Lam Dong province apply to boost tea industry development?
Currently, Lam Dong province has 24 foreign-invested tea companies which are licensed to manage 1,477 hectares of tea.
Lam Dong province has created most favourable conditions for foreign investors to invest in high-quality tea growing and processing to lay the springboard for the entire tea industry of Lam Dong.
The Provincial People’s Committee has guided the Lam Dong Tea Association to link FDI enterprises with Vietnamese ones, and farmers to boost the efficiency of production chains from cultivation to sales.
Could you compare Lam Dong tea drinking culture with that of other tea-growing localities?
With favourable soil and climate conditions and affection of farmers in the past 70 years, the tea industry of Lam Dong province has created a wide range of products for the market like black tea, green tea, oolong tea and Tu Quy (four seasons) tea. High-quality variety and well-established traditional processing techniques create the unique flavour of Lam Dong tea.
Not only a popular drink good for health, Lam Dong tea has been processed and enjoyed in different forms and in different cultural spaces. Visitors can explore vast tea farms and taste our unique teas.