|Nestlé is working with the Vietnamese government at a Central Highlands research facility to develop drought-tolerant coffee seeds |
In the coffee fields of Vietnam, many farmers are using empty milk cans and plastic bottles to save water and schedule irrigation more effectively. “The bottle and the can” idea introduced by Nestlé has received a warm response from Vietnamese farmers for its easy-to-use and low-cost manner.
By inserting a plastic bottle upside down in the soil and observing the condensation level in the bottle, the coffee farmer is able to measure soil moisture. When the water droplets inside the bottle are few, he knows it is time for the first dry-season irrigation.
The ingenuity does not end there. After this first irrigation, the farmer uses an empty condensed milk can to show him how much rainwater his trees are receiving – this helps him adjust the amount of water he uses to irrigate throughout the rest of the dry season.
The simple, scalable tools have quickly gained ground in Vietnam. Coffee farmers can use the bottle and the can to save water during the dry season in the Central Highlands, thereby improving the productivity and quality of coffee plants.
With extensive experience in sustainable agriculture farming, Pham Phu Ngoc, local head of Nestlé’s Agro-Service team, said the innovative tools encourage farmers to use and share with each other, which can help tackle the large-scale water problem quickly.
In addition to this idea, Nestlé Vietnam has deployed the NESCAFÉ Plan initiative since 2011, supporting coffee growers in Central Highland provinces to develop coffee sustainably through skills and knowledge training.
Over the past 10 years, the project has helped coffee farmers save up to 40 per cent of water, alongside other positive outcomes such as reducing 20 per cent of fertiliser and also 40 per cent of pesticide in use.
A dedicated journey for environmental sustainability
Nestlé Vietnam and La Vie have placed major priority on protecting and preserving water resources to contribute to sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. The pair has been deploying a slew of programmes associated with local communities for sustainable development in economic, social, and environmental aspects, highlighting sustainable agriculture, water resource protection, and effective water usage. Nestlé Vietnam’s factories have set forth the target of using water resources effectively and succeeded in reducing water usage for production by 30 per cent in 2019 against 2010.
Nestlé Tri An in the southern province of Dong Nai, specialising in producing Nescafé products, has pioneered in applying advances in science and technology to environmental protection. Since the beginning stage of development, the factory has invested in modern wastewater treatment technology for recycle purpose in the future.
It is also part of efforts to realise Nestlé’s Caring for Water initiative and the ambition to strive for zero environmental impact in its operations by 2030. By the end of 2019, around 65 per cent of waste water of the factory was treated and recycled for production, reducing over 112,000 cubic metres of water per year. The quality of recycled water also meets the national technical regulation on drinking water quality.
Last year, La Vie’s Long An factory became the first in the country to receive an Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) standard certification, a global benchmark for responsible water stewardship across social, environmental, and economic criteria. To be AWS certified, the factory must meet 30 criteria and 98 indicators, with the strict evaluation process conducted by an independent organisation.
Following the standards set by the AWS, La Vie reduced water usage for production by 30 per cent in 2019 against 2010 by adopting the 3R principle of water conservation (reduce, reuse, and recycle). La Vie also set a strong example for relevant stakeholders and partners to save water by encouraging them to apply solutions and technology for efficient use of water in manufacturing. The factory has achieved a success in co-operating with Long An authorities and community to to join hands for sustainable water management. La Vie also strives to contribute to improving people’s access to clean, safe water and support the community to protect surface water, as well as shallow and deep groundwater in the area.
Most recently, La Vie has made contributions to restore the degraded Thu Tuu and Chien Luoc canals in Long An. The canal restoration not only provides clean water for farming and household use, but also reduces pollution and risk of disease for a better living environment.