|Việt Nam has a large resource of natural ingredients. - Photo Helvetas Vietnam
HÀ NỘI – A Switzerland-funded project to conserve biodiversity through sustainable trade of natural ingredients following the BioTrade principles in Việt Nam, Laos and Myanmar was launched in Hà Nội on Tuesday.
The project, financed by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), a Swiss Government Agency, will be implemented by HELVETAS Vietnam, a Swiss-based International non-government organisation, from 2017 through 2020.
The total project funding for the three countries is US$4.9 million, of which $2.7 million will be allocated for Việt Nam.
BioTrade refers to the collection, production, transformation and commercialisation of goods and services derived from the native biodiversity, using the criteria of environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Natural ingredients are products processed from plants, animals and microorganisms that are collected and cultivated in the wild or domesticated and produced in an ecological way, without the use of petrochemicals.
Natural ingredients are used in many ways in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic or food industries for commercial purposes.
Southeast Asia is one of the world’s largest biodiversity hotspots and Việt Nam, Laos and Myanmar are amongst the most biologically diverse countries on earth.
According to Miroslav Delaporte, Head of Co-operation at the Embassy of Switzerland in Việt Nam, the project is aimed at conserving biodiversity through the sustainable trade of natural ingredients, which will focus on increasing the competitiveness of local exporters and producers, and developing livelihoods for rural population, while taking into account BioTrade principles.
The project will focus on collaboration with companies in Việt Nam to establish export-oriented value chains, following ethnical BioTrade Principles, with service providers to eliminate or reduce service-related bottlenecks that slow the growth of the natural ingredient sector, and with Government institutions and stakeholders to establish a conducive enabling environment for the BioTrade sector.
Việt Nam’s abundant natural ingredients could serve as a source of raw materials for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries. However, the domestic supply has been dwindling due to overexploitation and lack of conservation. Manufacturers, as a consequence, have to import large quantities of raw materials of questionable quality from other countries. The national pharmaceutical sector, therefore, becomes vulnerable to foreign competition even in its own market, let alone enabling it to penetrate international markets.
Việt Nam has more than 4,000 species which can be used as raw material; some 95 per cent of traditional Vietnamese remedies, including over 1,760 medicinal products, rely on this natural resource base, according to Helvetas.
The country produces up to 40,000 tonnes of raw medicinal material annually. In addition to this, significant quantities are imported from foreign countries, even though many of those plants species are available in Việt Nam. - VNS