|Nguyen Xuan Thao, Director of Bich Thao Coffee Cooperative, introduces Bich Thao powdered coffee, a national 5-star OCOP product.
The powdered coffee of the Bich Thao Coffee Cooperative was Son La province’s only product recognized as a national 5-star OCOP product last year. In 2019, Bich Thao powdered coffee and tea made from coffee bean skins were rated provincial 4-star OCOP products.
Nguyen Xuan Thao, Bich Thao’s Director, says the local coffee growing area, exploited since 1994, became exhausted and the quality of export products felt. Since its establishment in 2017, the Bich Thao Coffee Cooperative has used a high-yield, high-quality coffee variety to improve coffee quality.
“The new coffee variety has proved resistant to climate change and insect pests. Recognizing a rising demand in the domestic and international market for specialty coffee, in 2018 we invited foreign experts to train our members. We also pioneered a method of processing honey coffee without using water, and the use of coffee bean skins to make cascara tea for export, creating a Son La coffee with higher value that is more environment friendly,” Thao recalled.
To penetrate demanding markets, the Cooperative has strictly applied standards in planting, tending, harvesting, and processing.
For this year's coffee crop, Bich Thao will put into operation a coffee processing plant covering more than 1,000 m2 with a capacity of 20 tons of green coffee per day, a closed processing line, and 3 greenhouses for preliminary processing.
Thao says he expects the Cooperative to output 2,000 to 4,000 tons this year, thanks to the high-yield coffee variety. 90% to 95% will be exported, earning revenues of up to 861,000 USD.
The Cooperative's 5-star OCOP product has been introduced in Italy and Japan and is highly rated there. More recently it has been exported to the UK and Germany.
Another OCOP product of Son La is Gia Phat bamboo cups, straws, and eating utensils. Rated a 4-star OCOP item, the household utensils have been praised by consumers for their quality, price, and environment-friendliness.
The company now has 70 agents nationwide and a 60% share of the domestic market. Their products have been exported to India, France, Germany, the US, and South Korea.
Le Tien Dung, Director General of the Son La Bamboo Group, said, “We’ve developed a line of household products that keep the original nature of bamboo, without using any chemicals that could affect people’s health. Termites are eliminated by high temperature, and steam pressure is used to separate the sugar.”
|Gia Phat bamboo household utensil set including cups, straws, and eating utensils are a favorite OCOP product.
According to Dung, “To meet export requirements, we focus on improving the value of products from raw material areas, on restoring those areas after harvest, and on the size of the factory, the size of the product, and the environmental impacts. We are currently developing a factory that can meet all production requirements.”
Many OCOP items of Son La, especially products made from local specialties, are beginning to reach international markets.
These include tea products from the Ta Xua tea-growing area of the Tay Bac Tea and Specialty Food Company; Trong Nguyen Phong Lai tea from the Binh Thuan General Service, Sales and Production Cooperative; and dried longan from the Bao Minh Cooperative.
Hoang Thi Thu Hien, Deputy Chief of the Coordination Office of the provincial New Rural Development Program, said the provincial administration has created a roadmap for developing branded, high-quality, high-value OCOP products.
“Cooperatives and other participants in the OCOP program are required to strictly control the production process for each product. We’ll advise the province what to do to improve existing OCOP products to meet the higher standards of demanding markets. The export of OCOP products will introduce the regions of Son La consumers around the world,” said Hien.
Son La province is encouraging cooperatives and enterprises to invest more in product development with a target of creating 40 more OCOP items this year.