On the 18th – 19th of November 2022, Chenh Venh Eco-Tourism Cluster in Huong Phung commune of Quang Tri province received special guests in the countrywide on a Famtrip in Huong Hoa district. These include around 64 representatives of the local authority and relevant agencies, Vietnam Association of Community Tourism, Tourism Associations in provinces of Thua Thien Hue, Quang Binh and Quang Tri.
The trip, which was jointly organized by Quang Tri Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Helvetas Vietnam and a local tourist enterprise, aimed to consult relevant stakeholders on the improvement and development of Chenh Venh Eco-Tourism Cluster and Ta Con flowers garden in the years to come. The activity is also part of a technical assistance project titled ‘Biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management’ by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
As part of the Famtrip’s agenda, the delegation spent an entire day of the 18th of November 2022 at the tourist destination, experiencing a vast of services and visiting all of the tourism attractions consisting of the FSC certified natural forest under the management of the community. At a wrap-up meeting on the next day, the tourists expressed their satisfaction of the services, highly appreciated the tourist operation of the community, and definitely gave feedback on things that need improving in the coming time.
Chenh Venh Eco-Tourism Cluster is an initiative that has been developed, facilitated and supported by MCNV since mid-2021. At a wider scope, in the PROSPER project MCNV provided technical assistance to Chenh Venh ethnic community and the others in neighboring communes to gain FSC certificate for the community-managed natural forest in November 2021, and FSC certificate on eco-system in October 2022. All of these are expected to usher in opportunities for the indigenous people to generate income and improve livelihoods, thus contributing to sustainable forest management./.
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.
In mid April 2022, a team comprising MCNV representatives and technical advisors made their first surveying trip to households growing mango, dragon fruits and grape fruits in four provinces of Binh Thuan, Long An, Dong Thap and Ben Tre.
The surveying activity aims to look for key farmers offering their orchards for advanced-technology agricultural trials and demonstration as part of the project “Fruit quality project” by MCNV and the Vietnam Farmers Union (VNFU)
The working group comprised representatives from the VNFU, MCNV and three among the project’s partner companies: Bayer Vietnam (crop protection agents producer), Yara (fertilizer producer) and Eurofins (innovative soil and crop analysis).
During the trip, the farmers were briefed on the project’s objectives and the benefits of participating in the project as well as the eligibility criteria to be selected, including the minimum area of field possessed, the willingness and openness to acquiring new technology to improve the product quantity and quality. Besides, the working group also conducted inspection in terms of water resources, farming techniques, the use of insecticides and fertilizer, target export market, etc in surveying fields.
Selected farmers will represent their respective province to offer their field for fertilizer trials, demonstrations of crop protection and irrigation technology.
After the survey, 2 farmers’ household were selected including a pomelo plantation in Ben Tre province and a mango plantation in Dong Thap province. The survey will be further continued to search for another two households representing Binh Thuan and Long An provinces.
With total value of 906,665 euro, nearly half of which is funded by the Dutch Goverment via the Netherland Enterprise Agency (RVO), the project aims to improve the quality of the dragon fruit, grape fruits and mango in four provinces: Dong Thap, Long An, Ben Tre and Binh Thuan.
During the last 2 years, COVID-19 has adversely impacted the fruits market in Vietnam.
According to a farmer growing mango in Dong Thap province, there was the time when production costs exceeded the selling price “ripe mangoes were given away to people instead of being sold, they can take as much as they want”, he said.
In Binh Thuan , normally the farmers will break even at the price of VND 9,000 per kilogram of dragon fruits. However, there were the time when the price plunged to only VND 2,000-3,000 per kilogram. Unsold dragon fruits were disposed or used to feed cattles.
Therefore in the last 2 years, most farmers growing dragon fruits minimized the costs of maintainence of their orchards. They cut down spending on fertilizers, pesticides, labour cost up to 80% to wait for the recovery of the market (VND 12,000-13,000). In this context, the project jointly conducted by MCNV and VNFU is expected to create a reliable and sustainable cooperation between European leading companies and the farmers in Vietnam./.
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./.