October 11, 2022—the first MoU for the AFoCO regional project on “Improved local community livelihoods through increased income from non-timber forest products (NTFP): Modeling scalable community-based enterprises in Asia (AFoCO/035/2022)” was signed between the AFoCO Secretariat and Non-Timber Forest Products Research Center of Viet Nam, the Implementing Agency for the Viet Nam country component. The regional project will see 13 member countries cooperating to enhance livelihoods and promote sustainable forest management through the development of community-based NTFP enterprise models (CBNE) and capacity development activities. Viet Nam was the first country to sign the MoU for the implementation of the project in an online signing ceremony.
The FAO report on the State of the World’s Forests 2022 estimates that around 3.5 to 5.8 billion people globally use or depend on NTFPs to sustain their livelihoods.
In his congratulatory remarks, Mr. Ricardo Calderon, Executive Director of AFoCO, noted that the implementation of the project hinges on the experiences and competencies of the implementing agencies as it deals with the practical issues of improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent local communities. He also anticipates promising outputs under the Viet Nam NTFP country component considering that Viet Nam has been a strong partner of AFoCO programs and projects since its initial phase in 2012.
Mr. Luu Tien Dat, AFoCO National Focal Point of Viet Nam, thanked the AFoCO Secretariat for assisting Viet Nam in facilitating the signing of the MoU and was excited to launch the project. He urged the Non-Timber Forest Products Research Center to continue its efforts throughout the project inception procedures and implementation.
In closing, the signatories looked forward to the regional projects’ first workshop slated to take place in January 2023. The MoU signing ceremony will be preceded by the Project Inception Meeting (PIM) and the 1st Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting to officially kickstart the implementation of the project in due course.
 FAO. 2022. The State of the World’s Forests 2022. Forest pathways for green recovery and building inclusive, resilient and sustainable economies. Rome, FAO. https://doi.org/10.4060/cb9360en
 Shackleton, C. M., & De Vos, A. (2022). How many people globally actually use non-timber forest products? Forest Policy and Economics, 135, 102659. doi:10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102659
Submitted by Cha Jiyea, Assistant Program Officer