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Forestry augments household earnings

Update: January, 17/2015 - 09:29
Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development show that the output of plantations doubled from 6 cu m in 2009 to 16 cu m last year while wood and forestry product exports reached US$6.3 billion, an increase of 14 per cent over 2013. — Photo nongnghiep
HA NOI (VNS)— Engaging in forestry has helped hundreds of thousands of poor farmer families in mountainous areas boos their annual incomes by 25 per cent, an official says.

"Each household could earn an average of VND15 -17 million (US$720-810) a year from selling forestry products harvested from the land lent to them by the government or the State-owned forestry corporations, " Pham Van Hanh, an official with the Foresty Production Management Department under the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, said on Thursday.

He was speaking at a four-day meeting on successful forestry business models held in Ha Noi.

The meeting, organised by the Viet Nam Farmers' Association Central Committee (VNFACC), has attracted the participation of 17 member countries of the Forest Connect Programme including Canada, Finland and Brazil.

According to a report on national land usage prepared by the General Department of Land Administration in 2010, forest land allotted to households and individuals totalled 4.2 million hectares, accounting for about 35.5 per cent of the nation's forest coverage.

The policy of lending forest land to promote household business in recent years played a major role in increasing the forestry sector's productivity and contributed to economic growth, Hanh said.

Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development show that the output of plantations doubled from 6 cu m in 2009 to 16 cu m last year while wood and forestry product exports reached US$6.3 billion, an increase of 14 per cent over 2013.

"Forestry household has become an effective means to fight poverty by establishing a closer connection between farmers and forests; and, at the same time, promoting environmental protection and climate change adaptation," said Vu Le Y Voan, Deputy Head of the VNFACC's International Co-operation Department.

Ongoing challenges

Though forestry households had proven successful, farmers still faced many hurdles, the meeting heard.

Their small-scale production and lack of skills in negotiating product prices with dealers prevented them from earning higher profits.

And though productivity in the forestry sector had improved, it was considerably lower than that of neighbouring countries, Hanh said.

The country's productivity was about half of the Phillipines, 40 percent of China and merely 20 per cent of European Union members.

"Many farmers are not able to wait for the trees to reach their full growth in ten years. In order to support their families, they chose to harvest when the trees are just five or six years old," Hanh explained.

"Consequently, the wood quality is not high, leading to much lower prices, and the farmers end up hurting themselves," he said.

The Forest Connect Programme, which started in 2007, has supported enterprises in15 countries. It has also established online links between more than 1,000 individuals and organisations in 94 countries.

The programme is jointly organised by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Forest and Farm Facility under the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC). — VNS

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