Viet Nam News
BẮC KẠN — Sixty collectors of wild medicinal and aromatic plants met in the northern province of Bắc Kạn on Thursday to report their achievements in implementing a programme titled “Enhancing Management and Benefit Flows in Việt Nam’s Wild Medicinal Products.”
The three-year project had helped train over 1,000 local wild plant harvesters, including 460 women, in sustainable harvesting techniques and equitable trading practices based on FairWild Standard principles, an international best practices framework developed by TRAFFIC and others to help ensure that wild plants are harvested using sustainable methods and in ethical working conditions.
By following the guidelines, local co-operatives and groups reported a 20 per cent increase in their giảo cổ lam (jiaogulan or Gynostemma pentaphyllum) harvest in the final year of the project.
Sales of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) from collector co-operatives and groups were almost six tonnes higher than in 2017–18, with both harvesting and sales becoming more consistent.
The programme also succeeded in securing a trade contract with a national corporation at purchase prices 5 per cent above market rates.
“We are very proud of the achievements of the collectors of Bắc Kạn,” Nguyễn Hữu Thắng, director of the province Forest Protection Department, said.
“The fundamentals instilled by the project will go a long way in increasing the capacity of local collectors.”
The wrap-up workshop crystallised the lessons learnt over the project’s lifecycle and looked to how the fundamentals will be replicated by local authorities, communities, and other stakeholders in the future.
The meeting celebrated the progress made towards improving the livelihoods of participants by engaging them in sustainable harvesting of wild MAPs and enhancing their capacity to negotiate higher prices and sales by eliminating links in the trade chain.
Project partners supported the establishment of 16 formal collector groups and registered collector co-operatives and helped secure processing equipment such as herb cutting and drying machines to help improve the shelf life of the products.
Upgrades to the product packaging included vacuum-sealed bags and more attractive labelling.
Another project outcome was support to the Bắc Kạn People’s Committee in the development of a One Commune One Product (OCOP) programme that will focus through 2020 on the development of sustainably sourced products from four medicinal plants: Hypericum sampsonii, Heliciopsis terminalis, Gynostemma pentaphyllum, and Fallopia multiflora.
“The Bắc Kạn project has demonstrated successful implementation of the FairWild Standard’s best practices for sustainable wild plant harvesting and livelihood improvement for some of the poorest communities utilising these resources. This paves the way for further enhancements of the wild plant trade in Việt Nam, with benefits for species conservation and people’s well-being,” Sarah Ferguson, head of TRAFFIC’s Việt Nam office, said.
An implementation plan was created to provide a framework through which local authorities can continue project objectives beyond TRAFFIC’s involvement.
The activities of the joint project between the forestry department, the Hà Nội University of Pharmacy, DK Natura, the Ministry of Health, and TRAFFIC, supported by UK Government funding, began in 2015 and officially ended on Thursday. -- VNS