Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Rich Taste of Vietnam's Coffee

Take for example multi-millionaire Dang Le Nguyen Vu. His company, Trung Nguyen Corporation, is based in Ho Chi Minh City - formerly Saigon - but his wealth is based in the Central Highlands around Buon Ma Thuot, the country's coffee capital. Chairman Vu, as he is nicknamed, owns five Bentleys and 10 Ferraris and Forbes magazine assessed him to be worth $100m (£60m). That's in a country where the average annual income is $1,300 (£790).

WWF estimates that 40,000 square miles of forest have been cut down since 1973, some of it for coffee farms, and experts say much of the land used for coffee cultivation is steadily being exhausted. Vietnamese farmers are using too much water and fertiliser, says Dr Dave D'Haeze, a Belgian soil expert.

Some people from Vietnam's many ethnic minorities also say they have been forced off their land.

But Chairman Vu says coffee has been good for Vietnam. But he would, wouldn’t he, when it will pay for yet another luxury limousine.

"And it's one, two, three
What were you fighting for..."

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