Representatives join the workshop. — Photo courtesy of the Helvetas Vietnam
LÀO CAI — A policy dialogue workshop titled 'Sustainable Sourcing of Benzoin Gum in the Northern Mountainous Region' was held on Friday in Lào Cai City, the northern mountainous province of Lào Cai.
It was organised by Helvetas Vietnam and TRAFFIC.
The event was part of the Regional BioTrade Project in South East Asia funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to promote ethical sourcing and sustainable trade of natural ingredients combined with biodiversity conservation in Việt Nam.
Attending the workshop were representatives of the forest protection departments of Lào Cai, Yên Bái and Sơn La provinces, authorities of some communes, researchers, forest farmers, and businesses in the supply chain of benzoin gum as well as representatives of Helvetas Vietnam and TRAFFIC.
At the workshop, local authorities expressed interest in the sourcing of non-timber products, including benzoin gum (resin of styrax tonkinensis tree).
Vũ Hồng Điệp, deputy director of the Lào Cai Forest Protection Department said: “Everyone knows the forest is gold, but there is a paradox that the forest farmers and people living near the forest are now the poorest.”
“We strongly hope that the sourcing of benzoin gum will become an effective solution to improve the livelihoods of people in the mountainous areas while protecting the ecological environment,” he said.
The workshop facilitated stakeholders including Government, farmers, researchers, entrepreneurs and international supporters to share information and discuss opportunities for collaboration on this valuable non-timber product.
Research results and policy reviews show the legal environment for benzoin gum sourcing created by relevant laws such as the Land Law, the Law on Forestry and the Law on Biodiversity Conservation are favourable, but there should be a sustainable sourcing process for this product soon. Helvetas Vietnam and its partners will continue to support and accelerate the development of this process in the future.
This policy dialogue workshop in Lào Cai and the next one in Yên Bái in August can help create a premise for the northern mountainous provinces to improve the efficiency of management, supervision of benzoin gum sourcing and trading, as well as the development of other potential non-timber products, from provincial to grassroots levels, contributing to biodiversity protection and enhancing the livelihoods of local people. — VNS