Coffee vs. cacao: A case study from the Vietnamese Central Highlands
Ha, Dang Thanh
Shively, Gerald E.
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Mr. Nam, the vice chair of a village in Dak Lak province of Vietnam, was keen to protect farmers in his village from the sharp decline in prices of coffee (Coffea canephora Pierre ex Froehner). He did this by encouraging farmers in his village to plant cacao (Theobroma cacao L. subsp. cacao). Cacao was suitable to the soil and climate of the area, and because a foreign company had promised to buy cacao from the farmers, it seemed to offer greater financial security. However, uncertainty about crop losses due to pests, the cost of chemicals such as pesticides, and potential fluctuations in the prices of cacao made it imperative to carefully evaluate the benefits of cacao production. In making his recommendation to the village, Mr. Nam utilized additional information about the potential demand and the marketing networks for cacao. The decision to switch from coffee to cacao provides a village-level example of learning about agricultural supply and demand issues, perennial crop production, and economic and environmental consequences of growing particular crops. This case was written for undergraduate students in agriculture and forestry programs at Nong Lam University. Students were expected to understand