Northern provinces in Vietnam, such as Yen Bai, have great potential in precious herbs. However, due to excessive herb exploitation, various types of herbs have become endangered or even extinct. On top of that, connecting herb-planting farmers and companies has been difficult. To tackle this challenge, the Yen Bai Centre for Development of Science Technology and Community Health Care has implemented a project to improve governance in herbal medicine value chain in the Districts of Yen Binh and Van Yen.
Mr Ha Manh Thang decided to convert 500 m2 of his family’s low value rice field into an area for planting solanum procumbens, a local herb. In the beginning, the herbs did not grow well because he did not have experience in planting that species. Ha Manh Thang's family then participated in some training sessions on planting techniques, fertilisers and seeds as part of the project on the herbal medicine value chain by the Yen Bai Centre and acquired the necessary skills to make the herbs grow. Currently, planting solanum procumbens provides Thang’s family a stable source of income.
As herbs have direct effect on their users’ health, their farming requires careful practices. For instance, no pesticides can be used, harvesting must be done in a clean manner and the herbs’ time of purchase must be clearly defined.
As part of the project, training and experience-sharing sessions on business conduct and corporate social responsibility between officials, consultants from the Yen Bai Centre, cooperating stakeholders and the project managers have been held frequently. Participants have discussed planting and harvesting, food safety, purchase process and product quality. As a result, business practices and corporate social responsibility of the firms and members of herbal medicine value chain have improved.
“We are planting liverleaf following the method we learned from the project’s consultants when they visited our area. At present, we have registered and planted 1 000 liverleaf trees”, Mr Hoang Ngoc Tu explains. Mr Pham Van Hung says that liverleaf is planted under the forest canopy, and that no pesticides are used, only composted cattle manure, which is an organic fertiliser.
“It is a disadvantage for people when they are not trained or informed about planting techniques and standards. The project has made efforts to train the households all planting techniques to produce the best liverleaf products”, says Mr Sam Van Nua, Vice Director of Lung Lo Cooperative.
Over the years, the project has helped and directly benefitted 300 households planting herbs in Yen Binh District and Van Yen District. Another 150 companies and households selling herbs in Yen Bai and Hanoi have had access to the information provided in the seminars and training sessions. 30 social organisations have participated in seminars and events hosted as part of the project. Local officials have had access to a total of 150 capacity building sessions. The project’s online forum and social media channels have reached 5 million views by herb producers, traders, researchers, managers and companies.
According to Dr Dao Thi Ngoc Lan, the Director of the Yen Bai Centre for Development of Science Technology and Community Health Care, one of the most important results of the project is a stronger relationship between farmers, firms, local governments and other stakeholders. As the government and local authorities are supporting this enhanced partnership, it has a sustainable basis. Similarly, herb planting has now been incorporated in the socio-economic development plan of local communities.
About the project
Improved Governance in Herbal Value Chain was a project promoting the contribution of civil society organisations to enhance governance in herbal medicine value chain in Yen Binh and Van Yen Districts in Vietnam. The project ran from 2017 to 2022 and received most of its funding from the European Union.