May 23, 2019 / 8:40 AM / 2 months ago

Asia Coffee-Some Vietnamese farmers keen on growing avocado amid low coffee prices

HANOI/BANDAR LAMPUNG, May 23 (Reuters) - Persistently low domestic coffee prices in Vietnam have prompted some local growers to switch to other crops, including avocado and durian, traders said on Thursday.

Farmers in the Central Highlands, Vietnam’s largest coffee growing area, sold coffee COFVN-DAK at 30,900-31,600 dong ($1.32-$1.35) per kg on Thursday, down from 31,000-31,700 dong last week.

“Unofficial estimate shows that up to 10% of the coffee farms in the Central Highlands has been converted to avocado and durian farms over the past year,” a trader based in the region said.

Coffee prices hit their lowest in six years this month on fresh concerns over the U.S.-China trade war and strong sales from Brazil.

“Local coffee farmers are finding it hard to make profit as coffee prices have been going down while costs for fertilizers and electricity have been going the opposite direction,” the trader said.

Another trader in the province of Dak Lak in the Central Highlands said some coffee farmers were replacing their old coffee trees with avocado trees.

Vietnam is seeking to export avocado to the United States, the government said in a statement last week, adding that the fruit could become a high export earner for the Southeast Asian country.

Traders in Vietnam offered 5% black and broken grade 2 robusta COFVN-G25-SAI at a $45 per tonne discount to the July contract, flat from last week.

July robusta coffee fell $3, or 0.2%, to $1,361 per tonne on Wednesday.

In Indonesia, premiums for the grade 4 defect 80 robusta COFID-G4-USD July contract stayed flat from last week, in a range of $200-$240, according to a trader based in Lampung.

Another trader in the province said supplies were building up amid an ongoing harvest there, but demand remained weak. ($1 = 23,385 dong) (Reporting by Khanh Vu and Mas Alina Arifin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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