Vietnam to help Angola rejuvenate coffee production

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Vietnam, the world's second-largest coffee producer after Brazil, will help Angola revitalise its war-ravaged coffee production by planting the commodity on 100,000 hectares over the next decade, officials said on Thursday.

Prior to 1975 Angola ranked as the world's fourth-biggest coffee producer with annual shipments of around 4 million bags. But a civil war between 1975 and 2002 destroyed the southern African country's coffee sector.

Thai Hoa Vietnam Group, the country's top arabica producer and trader, a Brazilian consultant firm and a coffee producer from Angola will form a venture to grow 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) of robusta over the next three years, the firms said in a memorandum of understanding signed in Hanoi.

"Now we want to regain our position in the production of coffee, along with cotton and other agricultural products," Angola's ambassador to Vietnam, Joao Manuel Bernardo, told Reuters after the signing.

If the first stage proves a success, the venture will seek $250 million in funds for the entire robusta project through official development aid from Brazil, as well as other financial sources, Thai Hoa chairman Nguyen Van An said.

Output could be exported to meet growing demand in Brazil, where production costs have been rising, An said, adding that the firm would send its experts to help Angola grow the crop. Brazil mainly produces arabica but also turns out robusta beans, locally known as conilon, mostly for domestic consumption.

Bernardo estimated Angola's current production at 4,000 tonnes of coffee a year, far behind major producers in Africa such as Ethiopia with 390,000 tonnes, and Uganda with 193,000 tonnes, based on International Coffee Organisation data.

Africa as a whole produced 16.69 million bags of both arabica and robusta in the 2011/2012 crop, up 2.4 percent from the previous season and making up 12.7 percent of the world's total, the ICO said in its June report.

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