Empowering Communities: NTFP Project Inception Meeting in Vietnam (AFoCO/035/2022)

September 23, 2023 — AFoCO is embarking on a transformative project aimed at empowering and uplifting local communities in Vietnam. This project, titled “Improved local community livelihood through increased income from non-timber forest products (NTFP): Modeling scalable community-based enterprise in Asia (AFoCO/035/2022),” has the potential to make a significant impact. The project’s inception meeting convened in Vietnam, uniting key stakeholders to lay the foundation for a unique enterprise with a difference.

The Project Inception Meeting served as a platform for unity, bringing together the AFoCO and the Implementing Agency (IA), the Non-timber Forest Product Research Center (NTFPRC) of the Vietnam Academy of Forest Sciences (VAFS). Co-chaired by NTFPRC and the AFoCO, it marked the step toward realizing the project’s ambitions.

During the Project Inception Meeting, key components of AFoCO’s project management cycle were discussed, with alignment between AFoCO’s approach and the goals of the implementing agency affirmed. Dr. Phan Van Thang’s presentation on the project’s work and budget plan received endorsement. The Project Implementation Plan Matrix was unanimously approved, and the Rules of Procedures of the Project Coordination Committee were adopted after fruitful discussions. The invaluable insights from local government representatives and stakeholders underscored the project’s collaborative nature, emphasizing a brighter future for Vietnam’s local communities.

The project carries the following objectives: it aims to empower local communities through the sustainable use of non-timber forest products, fostering economic growth and sustainability through community-based enterprises. This initiative is at its core about environmental stewardship and biodiversity conservation, protecting forests and their resources, while also promoting cross-border collaboration to foster mutual benefits and growth.

The project spans two unique sites, each with its set of challenges and commodities.

Ngam Village in Thanh Hoa Province, renowned for its Lung Bamboo, is a local treasure used for crafting. However, over-exploitation has endangered its existence. The project in Ngam Village aspires to revive the Lung Bamboo forest, stimulate economic opportunities, and ensure a sustainable, high-value commodity, ultimately uplifting local livelihoods and protecting this vital natural resource.

Lot Village in Lao Cai Province is home to predominantly ethnic minority communities, and it hosts the valuable medicinal plant, Morinda. The project in Lot Village is dedicated to enhancing Morinda cultivation, meeting local demands, and expanding into international markets. This expansion aims to elevate local incomes, conserve medicinal plants, and create a sustainable income source for the community.

The successful realization of the AFoCO NTFP project in Vietnam relies on the unwavering commitment of local stakeholders. Notably, Mr. To Manh Tien, Vice Chairman of Lao Cai Farmers Association, and Mr. Truong Trong Tuan, Chairman of Quan Son District People’s Committee, have wholeheartedly embraced the project, understanding the challenges in their regions and vowing to support its goals.

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Dieu Hong, representing Eco Bamboo Company Limited in Thanh Hoa province, and Mr. Nguyen Phu Tri from Traphacosapa Company Limited in Lao Cai province, have expressed their hopes for the project’s success. Both companies are dedicated to improving the quality of their respective commodities, enhancing local livelihoods, and contributing to the project’s overarching mission.

The NTFP project in Vietnam is poised to create positive change by supporting local communities and conserving precious natural resources, offering hope to those in need. The partnerships forged in Ngam Village and Lot Village, along with the dedication of all stakeholders, are the building blocks of a brighter future.

Contributed by Ms. YoungJu HAN, Project Management Coordinator

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