Quod omnis iure.

Architect Roberto Gil discovered a knack for building furniture while toying with simple designs in his small apartment. His work bloomed into a successful kids’ furniture company, Casa Kids.

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Cillum consequat mattis.

Starbucks recently announced plans to open 3,000 new outlets in the Americas – 1,500 of them in the U.S. – and more in China. That may seem like business as usual for the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, which already has more than 18,000 locations around the globe. But just a few of years ago, Starbucks closed hundreds of stores — and it wasn’t just the burgeoning economic crisis that forced the coffee chain to retrench.

At the time, Starbucks seemed to have lost some of its magic, expanding too rapidly (some would say recklessly) while venturing into questionable new products, beverages, and food items. Starbucks seemed off-course, creating an opening for former CEO Howard Schultz to step back into day-to-day management after an eight-year hiatus and, eventually, revive the brand. Given that history, it’s hard not to wonder if Starbucks’ latest expansion plans – new stores and new products – are just a repeat of past mistakes.

When Howard Schultz returned to run Starbucks in 2008 – he had stepped aside as CEO in 2000 – he inherited a company that had lost its way. Some believed it vulnerable to a takeover. At the time, Starbucks operated about 16,000 stores, having grown at an astonishing pace of 1,300 new stores a year in both 2006 and 2007, according to financial firm Edward Jones. Instead of lauding its coffee, more people seemed to be talking about how many Starbucks stores you could fit in one photo.

As the economy worsened, same-store sales figures fell close to 10% as the company itself seemed to lack focus on the one product that made it successful. Rather than concentrating on coffee, the chain began selling music CDs, breakfast sandwiche,s and frillier and more elaborate drinks alongside other new food items (Strawberries & Creme Frappucino ice cream, anyone?).

But Schultz changed a lot of that. While he didn’t actually get rid of the breakfast sandwich, the recipe was changed so the smell of eggs wouldn’t overwhelm the smell of coffee. He closed down every Starbucks location for three hours on one day to retrain every barista on the art of pulling espresso shots. He upgraded all of store’s espresso machines. Suddenly, it seemed to be all about the coffee again.

Schultz also was forced to close down more stores than he ever thought he would – 900 in all, many of which were in low-performing areas that often competed with, well, another Starbucks down the street.

These moves made Starbucks into one of the true turnaround stories of the last several years. Last month the chain announced fourth quarter revenues of $3.4 billion, up 11% year-on-year. Same-store sales are up in the U.S. and worldwide, and Starbucks shares have risen 10% since fourth-quarter earnings were released.

And now, once again, the chain is expanding – not just locations but the items they sell as well. So it may just seem that Starbucks is retracing its mistakes in the years before Schultz pulled the company back into the black.

This time, however, it does appear that Starbucks has learned some lessons. For one, the chain isn’t growing nearly as fast as it did before the recession. While Starbucks was opening 1,300 new stores a year in the U.S. before 2008, they’re opening closer to 300 a year this time. Edward Jones analyst Jack Russo says Starbucks was opening stores too quickly and too close together, completely misreading how many Starbucks the market could handle. That pace also likely caused problems in properly training the staff (no wonder Schultz shut down stores to retrain baristas).

Plus, while the 3,000 stores it now plans to add may sound like a lot – indeed, those stores would increase Starbucks’ global presence by 13% – the chain is doing it over five years, or about half the pace of its previous expansion.

Natoque officia impedit.

This situation can be seen particularly in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, Viet Nam’s premier fruit growing region.
Experts say the main obstacles preventing optimum exploitation of GAP potential in the country are: small scale cultivation, lack of stable outlets and the lack of premium prices compared to non-GAP fruits.

Five years after it was first introduced to the region, the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta has nearly 300ha of orchards under GAP cultivation, meeting either Vietnamese or Global GAP standards. This is just 0.14 per cent of the delta’s total fruit growing area, according to the Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The southeastern region, which is the country’s second largest fruit producer, has also applied Vietnamese and Global GAP standards in several orchards since 2011.

In Dong Nai Province, for instance, a 9.6ha mango orchard belonging to the Suoi Lon Co-operative in Xuan Loc District and a 6.4ha grapefruit orchard of the Tan Trieu Grapefruit Co-operative in Vinh Cuu District have received Global Gap certificates.

Fruits that meet VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards such as the green-peel grapefruit in Ben Tre Province and Hoa Loc mango in Dong Thap Province have been exported to many countries.

However, experts say that most GAP fruit cultivation models are still small scale and unable to reap maximum economies of scale possible.

As of June this year, orchards that apply VietGAP had areas of between 5.4ha and 30ha, while the corresponding figure for GlobalGAP was 5ha to 43ha, according to the Southern Fruit Research Institute.

Speaking at a seminar held in Tien Giang Province last week, Nguyen Van Hoa, deputy head of the institute, said the output of GAP orchards was still small and could not meet the demand of large export contracts.

Meanwhile, in the domestic market, GAP fruits were selling for the same price as normal fruits, discouraging farmers from applying the better cultivation model, he said.

“This has discouraged farmers from participating in GAP cultivation models as they have to spend more on labour and pay high certification fees,” he said.

Vo Mai, deputy chairwoman of the Viet Nam Gardeners Association, noted that in previous seminars on applying GAP standards in fruit cultivation, concerned agencies had mentioned the necessity of co-operation between the State, the scientist, the business and the farmer.

However, no party has stepped forward and taken the lead to support farmers applying the special cultivation methods, she said.

Speakers at the seminar suggested that Viet Nam develops a uniform logo for fruits meeting VietGap standards and introduces policies promoting the sale of GAP fruits.

Hoa of the Southern Fruit Research Institute said co-operatives should strengthen relationships among themselves and with companies to create large fruit cultivation areas and closed supply chains.

“This will help solve the problem of low quality as well as the difficulty in finding outlets,” he said.

To facilitate fruit exports and increase the competitiveness of Vietnamese fruits, the Government should have policies to reduce transportation fees as the Thai Government has done, he said.

The agriculture ministry as well as provinces in the southern region have expressed their determination to boost fruit cultivation applying GAP.

They will support co-operatives in finding guaranteed outlets for their VietGAP or GlobalGAP produce so that members do not return to normal cultivation methods that are not only of lower quality, but more harmful to the environment.

Specialised areas

One of the measures that Southern provinces are considering in order to promote efficiencies of scale is to promote the development of specialised fruit-growing areas. They feel this can address the problem of small scale and scattered cultivation.

Tien Giang Province has such an area for pineapples in Tan Phuoc District, Barbados cherry in Go Cong District, dragonfruit in Cho Gao District, Lo Ren Star Apple in Chau Thanh District, Ngu Hiep Durian in Cai Lay District, and mango, orange, mandarins and grapefruit in Cai Be District.

Cao Van Hoa, deputy director of Tien Giang’s Department Agriculture and Rural Development, said the specialised fruit-growing areas have been able to meet the demand of local fruit processors and supply fresh fruits to the domestic market.

Tien Giang has become one of the country’s leading provinces in fruit cultivation area, output and the number of specialty fruits, he said.

The Southern region has nearly 416,000ha that are used to grow more than 30 kinds of fruits with annual output of 4.3 million tonnes, accounting for 57.41 per cent of the country’s total output, according to the Plant Cultivation Department.

Harum ut netus.

The most noteworthy characteristic of the development program No. 7 approved by the Prime Minister in July 2011 is that Vietnam would rely too much on fossil materials and hydropower plants. If Vietnam follows the development strategy, it would go contrary to the general trend of the times, because fossil materials and hydropower plants would not allow the sustainable development.

Thermopower plants generates too much carbon dioxide

It is expected that by 2020, the power plants in Vietnam would have the total capacity of 75,000 MW, of which hydropower plants would account for 23.1 percent, pumped storage hydropower plants 2.4 percent, coal run plants 48 percent, gas run plants 16.5 percent, recycle energy 5.6 percent, nuclear power 1.3 percent and imports 3.1 percent.

The proportion of coal run thermopower plants in the total power generation system in Vietnam would increase to 51.6 percent by 2030.

Dr Le Minh Duc from the Industrial Policy Institute, an arm of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has noted that with 48 percent of coal-run thermopower plants by 2020 and 51.6 percent by 2030, Vietnam seems to go contrary to the growing tendency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions which the world is striving for.

According to Duc, coal run power plants generate the highest carbon dioxide emissions, tens times higher than any other types of power generation. In order to make 1 kwh of electricity, coal-run power plants would generate 700gr of carbon dioxide. The figure is 400gr for gas run plants.

Vu Xuan Nguyet Hong, Deputy Head of the Central Institute of Economic Management, said only the low-carbon development would allow Vietnam to maintain its sustainable growth and protect the environment.

Hong has also noted that the development program No. 7 cannot show the solutions to the expansion of clean energy resources and environment protection.

Vietnam has favorable conditions to develop clean and recycled energy which allows it to strive to the sustainable development and make a contribution to the world’s efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the government needs to clearly stipulate the policies to encourage the investments in the sector.

Hydropower plant unsafe

Under the development program, by 2020, the total capacity of hydropower plants would reach 17,400 MW, making up 23.1 percent of the total 75,000 MW electricity output of the nation.

Developing hydropower plants is believed to be a safe solution in Vietnam, because the plants emit only 10-13 gr of carbon dioxide for every kwh of electricity.

However, scientists say Vietnam needs to learn the lessons from hydropower plants. The projects have led to the loss of the forests, the biodiversity degradation, the loss of land for agricultural production, and the changes of the stream current mechanisms.

A report showed that by 2011, Vietnam had had 34 medium and big hydropower plants in operation with the total designed capacity of 8740 MW which churn out 33 billion kwh of electricity a year. Besides, there are 86 small plants which make out 2 billion kwh.

In general, hydropower plants bring 40 percent of the total electricity output of the nation.

Dr Le Minh Duc stressed that when implementing a project, the government needs to consider the expected benefits in a harmonization instead of focusing on economic benefits. Queensland State in Australia, for example, has give up the bauxite project worth 1.5 billion dollars to protect a primeval forest.