Cacao arrived in Vietnam in the late 19th century. It remained a small crop until about 15 years ago, when development organizations began encouraging the planting of seedlings in the Mekong Delta region. While this dramatically increased the amount of cacao grown in Vietnam, it still remains a tiny share of Vietnam’s agriculture compared to its massive rice, cashew, and coﬀee industries.
Ben Tre is a coastal province on the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, a low-lying, tropical region with a vast network of rivers, rice paddies, and swamplands. It has hundreds of miles of canals that reach far into the farmland. The land is extremely fertile, and as such, has been intensively farmed for more than a century. Located between two main branches of the Mekong’s largest tributary, Ben Tre Province is birthplace of cacao in Vietnam. The terrain is ﬂat with an altitude of less than 5 meters above sea level, and many farmers of a variety of crops take advantage of the area’s abundance of fresh water and alluvial soil.