Corporate deal to open training center for Vietnam coffee farmers

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group affiliate, signed an agreement with Atlantic Commodities Vietnam Monday to establish the first training center for Vietnamese coffee farmers.

The center aims to train Vietnamese coffee farmers meet international certification standards, improve both crop sustainability and productivity, and therefore increase earnings, the IFC said.

This is part of an IFC plan to provide investment and advisory services to help Swiss ECOM Agro-industrial Corporation, a global coffee trader and father company of Atlantic Commodities Vietnam, establish several farmer training centers.

The plan includes a US$55 million five-year corporate loan committed in June 2008 to fund the project in six countries, including Vietnam.

"IFC's ongoing co-operation with ECOM shows how we can maximize development impact by supporting large numbers of smallholders," said Simon Andrews, IFC Regional Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

"Adding value to our farming suppliers through farmer training centers makes good business sense for ECOM Group, which has been proven through similar projects in Mexico and Uganda," said Alexander Gruber, general director of Atlantic Commodities Vietnam.

The new training center, which targets 4,000 farming families over three years, will help them qualify for sustainable coffee certifications like Utz, Rainforest or 4C.

As ECOM and other buyers pay premium prices for certified coffee beans, farmers joining the training centers should see their incomes increase through certification, the IFC says.

ECOM and IFC expect about 50,000 non-ECOM farmers to benefit indirectly from exposure to best management practices and information disseminated by the project.

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