Planting trees in an area of landslide due to the 2020 historic floods
MCNV in cooperation with the Deutsche Forstservice GmbH (DFS), Forest Science Center for North of Central Vietnam (FSCV), and Dong Ha High School organized an “Eduction on Nature and Environment” tour to MCNV’s project site in Huong Hoa district of Quang Tri province, Vietnam on the 30th of July 2022.
Thirty nine students of Dong Ha High School, accommpanied with their teachers and parents in Dong Ha city were the targets of the education tour. The program’s aim was to provide deep understanding of the value of nature including ecosystems and forests, evoking awareness of climate change, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development, and enable the students opportunities to take actions.
“Things in here were quite totally new and strange to me”, Tran Nguyen Phi Uyen – a 17-year-old school girl confessed. “At the time I entered into the forest, I felt anxious and a bit scared of leeches and so [coyly smiling], just like many friends of mine joining in the tour. However, beside the learnt lessons of the nature and environment, I think those were good moments for us to learn to face fears and overcome obstacles.”
“I am really impressive of this education tour,” said Hoang Van Minh – Vice Principal of Dong Ha High School. “All the students live in Dong Ha city and hadn’t known about forests and life and culture of indigenous communities. Now they’ve got great experiences. As far as I know, this kind of education tour has first been organized in Quang Tri province, and we expect many more tours of this would serve a greater number of students in the coming time.”
Article on the Vietnam Investment Review. Author: Nguyen Dinh Dai, MCNV Chief of Central Vietnam Office
The government has recently approved a project worth $3.55 billion to develop the forestry sector in a sustainable manner in the 2021-2025 period. This legal framework aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the implementation of Vietnam’s net-zero commitments. To achieve the targets, the forestry sector and local government require strategic implementation and good practices in the field. This will be carried out through partnerships with donors such as the EU, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), WWF Vietnam, and MCNV.
The province of Quang Tri has created strategic results in sustainable forestry development thanks to the support from international organisations, and there are already many interesting stories regarding this.
One regards promoting market links on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) between smallholders and enterprises. Nhien Thao is a local enterprise in Quang Tri province that produces natural-based products such as shampoo, floor cleaning liquids, and dishwashing liquid. NTFPs including soap, black locust seeds, and essential oils are key raw materials for the production of the enterprise.
Currently, Nhien Thao is collaborating with about 150 smallholder forest owners in supplying NTFPs with a value of about $75,000 annually. These smallholders are managing hundreds of hectares of natural forest where they can harvest different kinds of NTFP such as soap nuts, black locust seeds, pomelo, and limes. The enterprise is planning to expand its business and network with smallholders.
In April 2022, the enterprise was awarded the prize of best natural business solutions by the New Generation Plantation and WWF Vietnam. This is a win-win business model for the smallholders and enterprises in contributing to sustainable forest management.
Another example is the long-rotation plantation for tung oil production. It is estimated about 1,500 tonnes of dry tung oil seeds are harvested annually with a value of $650,000 in Quang Tri province. Since 2020, the PROSPER project (on promoting sustainable partnerships between civil organisations and enterprises for sustainable forest management in the context of climate change), co-funded by the EU and MCNV, has supported smallholders in planting about 300ha of tung oil plantation mixed with indigenous species in Quang Tri province.
Tung oil plantation has contributed to forest protection and annual income for smallholder forest owners from harvesting tung oil seed.
With the support of the USAID, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is planning a 5-year strategy for tung oil plantations. This model will contribute directly to annual income for smallholders, increasing forestry cover ratio and carbon capture from the long-rotation of tung oil plantations.
Within the PROSPER project, for the first time in Vietnam, two natural forests of smallholders in Huong Hoa district have earned FSC certification on sustainable forest management, in which three bamboo species are certified FSC. In 2022, the project targets to achieve certification for carbon capture, bio-diversity, and rattan.
By December 2020, about 20,000ha of natural forest had been allocated to smallholders in Quang Tri province, in which around one-third received the Payment of Forest Environment Service for forest protection. The rest of the forests are protected voluntarily by smallholder forest owners. The piloted model on FSC-certified ecosystem services offers potential for smallholder forest owners in accessing payment mechanisms for forest ecosystem services and the high-value market of NTFPs of FSC-certified rattan and bamboo.
This association of smallholder forest certification was established in 2014, supported by WWF Vietnam. The association is a representative for smallholder forest owners in FSC certification for acacia plantations and has been a link between IKEA suppliers and smallholder forest owners in supplying FSC-certified wood.
In 2020, under the support of PROSPER, for the first time, the association recruited new natural forest owners as members. This achievement brought a new direction in promoting sustainable forest management of smallholders in both plantations but also the natural forest.
Quang Tri province is considered one of the pioneers in sustainable forestry development strategies. The concrete practices in the field are significant to show scaling up in the aspect of implementing the programme on sustainable forestry development until 2025./.
On a native forest nursery of Son Nguyen Cooperative
On the 18th on June 2022, a delegation from WWF-UK and WWF-Vietnam paid an exposure visit to the sites of the “Promoting Sustainable Partnership between CSOs and Enterprises for Sustainable Forest Management in the Context of Climate Change” (PROSPER) project co-funded by the EU and MCNV in Huong Hoa district of Quang Tri province.
The visiting program was to reinforce the implementation of the Cooperation Framework Agreement dated the 15th of December 2021 between MCNV and WWF for PROSPER and Projects/Programs under Forest Practice of WWF-Viet Nam in Central Annamites Landscape (CAL).
By synergizing bilateral resources to make greater contributions to sustainable forest management, the Agreement focuses on the following areas: (i) Improving and maintaining the FSC® forest certification system of Association of Quang Tri’s Smallholder Forest Certification Groups (SFCGs); (ii) Promoting market linkages between smallholders and processing companies in relevant supply chains such as FSC certified bamboo and rattan, and other NTFPs; (iii) Supporting in potential business models for developing the bankable projects on bamboo, medica herbs and so, to access to the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD) and Landscape Resilience Fund (LRF); and (iv) Developing project proposals on forest restoration by planting native species and non-timber trees for climate resilience while enhancing the livelihood of local people, etc./.
Delegates talking with an ethnic coffee producer on his agro-forestry farm
On the 14th of June 2022, a joint delegation of Gesellschaft für Agrarprojekte (GFA) Consulting Group, Deutsche Forstservice GmbH (DFS) and Forest Science Center for North of Central Vietnam (FSCV) paid an exposure visit to the PROSPER project sites co-funded by the EU and MCNV in Huong Hoa district of Quang Tri province, Vietnam.
The delegates visited agro-forestry coffee models, investigated material areas of non-timber forest products, and joined in an experience tour to tourist destinations in Chenh Venh village of Huong Phung commune, which has been recently known as Vietnam’s first-ever FSC® certified natural forest managed by the community.
The purpose of the visit is to assess the possibility of designing and implementing a tourist service on nature and environmental education attached with sustainable forest management in the area. The trip was expected to usher in new opportunities for exploiting the strengths and potentialities of the local, particularly community-managed eco-tourism./.
On June 3, 2022, an agreement was signed to hand over the Micro Credit and Saving project in Binh Dai district from MCNV to Binh Dai District People’s Committee and Binh Dai Provincial Women’s Union.
The signing ceremony was attended by Mr. Pham Dung, MCNV Vietnam Country Director, Mr. Pham Huu Toai, Vice Chairman of Binh Dai District People’s Committee – Head of the project management board, Ms. Nguyen Thi Loi, Head of Binh Dai District Women’s Union, Vice Head of the project management board, representatives of People’s Committee the Women’s Unions of 11 communes and townships under the project.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Mr. Pham Dung said: “The project symbolizes the long-term cooperation between MCNV and Ben Tre province. MCNV is proud of what the project has achieved, in the aspects of sustainability, financial performance and social impact. With a flexible approach, through microcredit instrument, the project has provided relevant knowledge and capital source to help poor women in Binh Dai district strive toward a better future. At the same time, the project has provided timely and effective support for the community to tackle the challenge of drought and saltwater intrusion and meet with some of new rural area development criteria.
Following the handover, the project will be operated by the People’s Committee of Binh Dai district and the Women’s Union of Ben Tre province, in accordance with the project regulations, ensuring the optimization of the credit source to meet the needs of poor women in post-COVID economic recovery in the time to come.
• The Micro Credit and Saving project in Binh Dai district was launched by MCNV and sponsors in 2009, starting with two communes with a capital of nearly 300 million VND. • The project has extended its reach to 11 communes and township, providing micro-credit loans and saving services to around 1,700 regular customers with a total revolving capital of over 12 billion VND. • Over 8,800 loans are provided to support thousands of women to escape poverty.
•The project will also become one of MCNV’s partners in assisting Ben Tre province and the Mekong Delta region to adapt to climate change.
•The Project Management Board is committed to maintain reporting and the relationships with longstanding Dutch donors such as Mfm, Huzla and individual donors.
Visiting an agroforestry coffee farm of an ethnic farmer
On the 2nd of May 2022, a delegation of Hoi An Roastery (HAR) paid a field visit to Quang Tri province of Vietnam with an aim to investigate market expansion and scale up linkages with coffee producers in the Arabica coffee production hub in Huong Phung commune.
The HAR’s delegates included the owner of HAR Europe BV, Tjarco van Raad (Director of HAR – Europe BV, Caroline de Bruijne (Sales and Marketing Director of HAR Europe BV), Rudy van Bork (Executive Director of HAR in Vietnam) and Davis Dawson IV Ferdinand (Sales Director of HAR in Vietnam).
MCNV is a long-standing partner of HAR and in the past years facilitator of the coffee value chain of HAR, local processor and coffee producers . At a joint meeting with MCNV, HAR’s members were thoroughly updated on the contract farming and visited MCNV’s museum and project sites.
The delegates visited coffee farms, and met up with coffee producers and processor to discuss the sustainable cooperation through the deployment of Stage 2 of the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development bankable project of “Agroforestry coffee production of Hoi An Roastery & Arabica Coffee Smallholders in Quang Tri province, Vietnam”.
MCNV recently joined with local authorities in organizing an event to kick start community-based ecotourism in combination with FSC®-certified sustainable forest management in Chenh Venh village, Huong Phung commune, Huong Hoa district. The event brought together representatives of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Culture, Sports & Tourism, the Forest control department and the Center of Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion of Huong Hoa district and relevant departments.
The event was a chance for the participants to expose to exotic eco-tourism services directly provided by Chenh Venh village, such as visiting the campsite in Sa Muoi hill, Chenh Venh waterfall and stream, trekking through natural forests managed by the community, Ro Ve village picnic site while learning about the indigenous cultures embodied in local authentic dishes and performing arts.
In order to put the entire ecotourism services into operation, MCNV and the People’s Committee of Huong Hoa district and Huong Phung commune have spent the last six months assisting Chenh Venh village and the Community Forest Board of the village in the preparation process. Key support includes: converting local residential houses into homestay, installing camping infrastructures (tents, bedding ), restoring the stream bank landscape, installing sign boards, building sanitary facilities, providing training on community-based tourism services, culinary skills, etc.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Chair of Huong Hoa district People’s Committee, Mr. Pham Trong Ho highlighted the advantages of Chenh Venh village in developing community- based tourism, thanks to its magnificent natural landscape and distinctive indigenous culture. He also appreciated MCNV’s practical support, which is believed will lay out a solid foundation for the development of ecotourism in combination with sustainable forest management in the long run.
According to Mr. Nguyen Dinh Dai, Chief of MCNV Office in Quang Tri province, Chenh Venh village comprises nearly 100 Bru Van Kieu households who oversee up to 1,000 hectare of forest. The jobs created and income generated from non-timber products, community-based tourism and ecosystem services play a significant role in helping the locals manage and protect the forest more effectively.
Thanks to PROSPER project by MCNV and the European Union, in 2021, the community forests in Chenh Venh village and Ho village (Huong Son commune) have become Vietnam’s first community forests that received the FSC® certificate issued by the World Council of Forest.
In the time to come, MCNV will continue to support Chenh Venh village in maintaining and developing community-based tourism. In detail, MCNV will help connect the beneficiaries with sponsors and responsible enterprises who are willing to pay for ecosystem services provided by this community, such as carbon absorption, biodiversity and water conservation./.
A conference to kick start the project “Boosting income and jobs for poor ethnic women in Dong Xuan district” (BIJPO) was held on March 25th by MCNV and Dong Xuan District People’s Committee.
Building on the achievements of the previous Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture project, BIJPO will be implemented in a period of 36 months, from April 2022 to April 2025.
BIJPO aims to tackle the new challenges confronting people of ethnic minorities living in remote mountainous areas brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. In particular, BIJPO will focus on boosting the income, improving food security via the improvement of working condition and agricultural production. The project will benefit about 650 women and 500 children of poor and nearly poor households in 15 villages of 6 communes in Dong Xuan district, and therefore, contribute directly to the realization of the National target programme on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas in 2021-2030.
As part of the project, 15 new women-led cooperatives will be formally established and receive support in terms of making joint business plan and building joint assets/facilities for its production and business. Operation of the groups will create alternative jobs and income for the poor women in village who are willing to join and commit the common production plans of the groups. Potential business includes debarking machines of acacia wood; producing dry mushroom products; weaving products, etc.
At the same time, the project will facilitate 30 household agricultural production groups. These informal groups will be set up and endorsed by local commune government. Each household production group will include around 15 poor and nearly poor households. The project will provide group members with agricultural production training courses; coaching; seedlings, breeding for improving current crops or implementing alternative cash and non-cash crops. Female members will work together to improve and diversify their household agricultural production such as rearing fish, frogs, chicken, ducks, crabs and planting acacia plantation, fruit trees (banana, papaya) vegetables, or pumpkin. The improved productions aim to create both cash and also non-cash income for these households. The agricultural models will be identified and proposed by group members in accordance with local context and household conditions./.
It’s the beginning of dry season in the North of Huong Hoa district (Quang Tri province). Ho Van Dinh is walking along the stream, heading toward the Ta Bang mountain, under the blazing sun.
Dinh’s family used to live at the foot of Ta Bang mountain, in Nguon Rao Pin village. However, after the historic flood swept through Quang Tri in October 2020, several massive cracks have appeared in this mountain. To protect people from the hazards of landslide, local authorities have swiftly relocated 32 households living nearby, including Dinh’s, to a safer place.
After climbing up a nearly-2-km bumpy slope, Dinh stopped walking. Pointing toward a land plot filled with stones and rocks, he said: “I planted trees there. The total area is 1.6 hectares”.
At the first glance, it seems like nothing can survive on this barren land, except grasses and shrubs. Nonetheless, thanks to the hardwork of Dinh’s family, nowadays, many young tung trees (Vernicia Montana) have started to showcase their vital Eden-green color together with “lat hoa” (Chukrasia tabularis).
“These trees were planted by me, my wife, my three sons and their wives. It took us around 3, 4 days in a row to complete the work. After three months, the survival rate is nearly 100%,” Dinh said happily, while busily filling soil around the root of a young tree.
Dinh’s household is one of 100 households in four villages of Huong Son and Huong Phung commune supported by the project “Promoting sustainable partnership between CSOs and enterprises for sustainable forest management in the context of climate change” (PROSPER project) co-funded by the European Union (EU) and MCNV.
In the year 2021, PROSPER project has partly funded the labour cost for these 100 households to plant tung trees together with other indigenous plants covering a total area of 139.4 hectare. The plantation density is 1,333 trees per hectare, including 1,067 tungs trees and 266 indigenous plants.
In the same year, MCNV has piloted planting tung trees to prevent landslide in several locations in Huong Son, Huong Lap and Huong Viet communes, with a total area of 42 hectares. Earlier, in 2020, two villages in Huong Phung commune receive funding for forest plantation in an area of 120 hectares. So far, the total area of forest plantation in Northern Huong Hoa supported by the PROSPER project has been 300 hectares.
“Planting Tung trees help protect the soil and water. It is easy for Tung trees to grow here, thanks to the suitability with local soils and climates,” said Dinh.
“It also benefits us in terms of income generation. When it comes to the harvesting season, all of us go to collect the seeds. The sale of the seeds helps us earn additional income to afford food for the family,” he shared.
Dinh’s family has been growing tung trees in over 10 years, covering an area of 1,2 hectares. According to Dinh, fresh tung seeds is sold at VND 5,000-6,000 per kilogram, while the price of dried tung seeds is doubled.
Normally, a tung tree starts to mature to bear fruits in their third year and yield commercial quantities at three to four years of age. The oil obtained from Tung seeds is commercially valuable, and is popularly used as the ingredients for the production of wood finishing products, paints and ink.
According to a research by MCNV in 2020, tung tree plantation in Northern Huong Hoa covers a total area of 2,400 hectares (in combination with other indigenous trees), and 300 hectares of Tung trees dispersedly planted in household surroundings, yielding an annual amount of dried seeds of up to 1,500 tonnes, equivalent to VND 15 billion per year.
It is estimated that each hectare of tung trees can produce 3-4 tonnes of dried seeds, worth VND 30-40 million/year, if they are properly taken care of.
Recently, Quang Tri province has included tung tree in the list of key species contributing to the province’s implementation plan of the project “Planting one billion trees in the period of 2021 – 2025” launched by the Government of Vietnam./.
November fills the commune of Huong Phung (Quang Tri province) with the hustle and bustle of the prime coffee harvesting season.
“The cherries are ready to be picked! When will the company from Hoi An come to buy them?” Ho Van So, head of Xa Ry Village coffee group says in excitement while looking at the ripe coffee cherries glowing in the autumn sun. Xa Ry is one of seven coffee groups in Huong Phung commune (Huong Hoa district, Quang Tri province) participating in contract farming as suppliers for Hoi An Roastery and a local household coffee processing unit.
The partnership was established with the support from the Medical Committee Netherlands – Vietnam (MCNV) and has been growing robustly over the years, fueling the confidence in a bright prospect of a sustainable coffee supply chain.
However, amidst the complication of COVID-19, for nearly two years, this promising model has been struggling with the risk of being shattered. The challenge forces businesses to formulate an adapting strategy and look for new resources for development. In order to facilitate the coffee supply chain access to the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, MCNV has initiated a project titled: “Agroforestry coffee production of Hoi An Roastery & Arabica Coffee Smallholders in Quang Tri province, Vietnam.”
The project aims at promoting contract farming and certified coffee production to enhance the supply chain, contributing to the sustainable development of coffee production in Quang Tri.
In 2021, the project marks a significant milestone by participating in the Rainforest Alliance (RA) certification program period 2021-2025 with a vision toward 2030. If the program is fully implemented, it will help increase farmers’ income, enterprises’ profit margins and contribute solution to tackle various social, environmental concerns as well as crop quality and productivity-related issues.
Before the project is implemented, most of the coffee was sold to middlemen. According to Ho Thi Nuong, a female member of Xa Ry coffee farming group, bargaining was impossible as they could not reach out to any other buyer. The farmers therefore had no choice but scramble to sell their coffee. Limited market access and low level of market penetration has led to uncontrolled harvesting, lowing down the quality of processed coffee beans and threaten to reduce yields of the next harvesting season.
Farmers, at the same time, were trapped in a circle of numerous concerns including unstable coffee price, crop yields, fertilizer purchase and inadequate cultivation techniques. Most of them acquire fertilizer on credit and can only settle the payment once they receive cash from coffee buyers. This leads to complete reliance on middlemens, who play the role of both fertilizer supplier and coffee buyer.
“Thanks to the project, we are now harvesting coffee cherries following the RA standard. The quality is improved and the price is increased. All participating groups are enabled to bargain with the buyers before signing a contract. Payment for coffee sale is made in due time, facilitating farmers to pay for the fertilizer they bought on credit. Things are getting better!”, Nuong says.
Sharing the views of Nuong, Ho Van So adds: “In 2020, I began to remove old low-yield coffee trees to plant around 2,000 trees per hectare. Quality is more important than quantity. Less trees also means less fertilizer. At the same time, we are growing other kinds of trees such as peppers to generate more income and provide shade for coffee trees.”
In October 2021, a series of workshops was organized by MCNV to give farmers an overview of the RA certification, in particular the criteria that must be met. “At the beginning, it was so hard to get used to activities like writing farm diary and doing garden monitoring,” says Vo Chanh Thi (Dai Do village).
“Nonetheless, step by step, we have found out that this practice is highly beneficial. In addition to improving coffee quality and quantity, this model helps farmers feel confident since it ensures a stable and favorable price. Not only can they sell coffee at a higher price, they also get an extra income in accordance with a so-called “Sustainability Differential’’ policy when participating in the RA certification.
Seven groups of farmers (over 50 members) have taken part in the contract farming model of 2021, of which nearly 40% are people of ethnic minority. According to the farming contract, coffee cherries are sold to enterprises at significantly higher-than-market price.
MCNV plays a facilitating role in this coffee supply chain by providing support, consultation and monitor to the entire process, including the establishment and capacity development of farmer groups, contract negotiations and signing, coffee supply and processing, bookkeeping, quality control, and development of a monitoring and evaluation system. In addition, MCNV has connected the beneficiaries with a local bank to open individual bank accounts, ensuring the transparency and timeliness of payment. Based on the current progress, the year 2021 is expected to be a great stepping stone for the journey toward RA certification./.