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Vietnam

Lauong Van Tien
Director, Special Forest Products Research Center

Introduction
Current status of forests and NWFP resources
Utilization of NWFPs
Guidelines and objectives for NWFP development
Research and training
Literature cited

Introduction

Forests in Vietnam, contain abundant animal and tree resources. Besides timber, the forests provide a wide range of NWFPs which in Vietnam are commonly referred to as "Special Forest Products."

These resources are diverse in species and form. They include:

- 113 producers of resins
- 458 producers of essential oils
- 473 species yielding fatty oil
- 800 species producing tannin
- 242 species producing fibre
- 557 species of drug plants
- 27 species producing starch

These NWFPs are highly appreciated for their social and economic values. Under the economic conditions in the remote mountain areas, communications and transport are lacking. Commercial wood extraction is difficult or impossible as the forest cover has been destroyed. The farming of NWFPs, therefore, has become an important business, for it requires less investment and lower transport costs and can provide large profits.

To take advantage of the resources available, NWFPs must be developed for export to meet the following objectives: earning of foreign exchange, balanced forestry development, social and economic development in the mountain areas, and increased employment opportunities for uplanders.

Current status of forests and NWFP resources

The following statistics are relevant in considering NWFP development in Vietnam:

Total land area

330,363 km2

Population

64,412,000

Population density

195 people/km2

Forests and forest lands

57.7 percent of the total land area

Forested area per capita

0.14 ha

Timber reserves per person

9 m3

During the tight economic conditions in recent years, the forestry sector has pursued a strategy of earning revenues from forests to develop forestry and society. However, the rate of deforestation during the 1980s was alarming: 60,000 to 100,000 hectares (or 0.7 percent of the forested area) per year. The total area of denuded hills and open land by now totals 9.75 million hectares (Table 1). The forest cover has been reduced by one-third in the past 45 years from 42 percent to 28 percent of the country's total area. The main cause of this is increasing demand for food and fuel. Forests have been encroached on and destroyed by shifting cultivation, wild fires, abusive exploitation, and careless wood harvesting.

Vietnam possesses significant bamboo resources (Table 2) which are of major importance for commerical and local use.

Table 1. Forests and forest lands in Vietnam, 1990

Description

Area (1000 ha)

Natural forests

8,686.7

Plantations

629.0

Total forested area

9,315.7

Non-forested lands classified as "forest land"

9,750.0

Total forests and forest land

19,065.7

Table 2. Bamboo resources in Vietnam, 1989

Total area

1,120,800 ha

Inventory in natural stands

5,590.2 million culms

Inventory in plantations

75.4 million culms

Total inventory

5,665.6 million culms

Table 3. Area under NWFPs production, 1989

Pine

388,000

Cinnamomum cassia

10.700

Anise

10,000

Aleurites

24,900

Host trees for lac cultivation

3,600

Styrax

87,000

Cashew

100,000

Castor

2,000

Drug plants



+ Coscinum

5,000


+ Ammomum

1,500


+ Cinchona

100

Total

632,000

Most bamboo resources are grown in the central Highlands and the central coast.

Past forest inventories paid attention only to the supply of timber and bamboos. There is a severe shortage of information on NWFPs on a national basis. The limited information on NWFP production areas is provided in Table 3.

Vietnam has a wide range of NWFPs that are useful for the following purposes:

Extraction of essential oils:

· From roots and stumps: Cupressus funebris, Dianella ensifolia, Fokienia hodgensii, Aquilara crassna

· From fruits: Litsea cubeba

· From leaves: mint, citronella, ocinum, cajenut trees, Eucalyptus citriodora

As medicinal plants:

· Fruit and/or seeds: Amomum spp., Cassia tora
· Flowers: Sophora japonica
· Bark: Eucmonia ulmoides, Phellodendron anurence
· Roots: Morinda officinalis, Dioscorea persimilis
· Leaves: Artemisia annua.

As food crops:

· turmeric, ginger, cashewnut, chestnut and condiments, edible mushrooms,
· pythons, monkeys, birds, deer, geckos, honey.

As producer of fatty oils:

· Thea oleosa, Aleurites molucana.

As producer of resins and gums:

· Toxicodendron succedanea, Liquidambar formosana, Canarium spp. Dipterocarpus alatus, Altingia takhtadjanii.

As dye- and tannin-giving species:

· Rhizophora indigofera.

As fiber producers:

· agave, Ceiba pentantra, Rhamnoneuron balansea.

For making bamboo and rattan articles:

· fishing-rod bamboo, big-sized bamboo.

Utilization of NWFPs

Harvesting and processing

To support NWFP development on a sustained basis, the Special Forest Products Exportation Company was set up in 1976. Its main tasks are to manage, protect, farm, exploit, buy, and process NWFPs for domestic and foreign markets. It has developed three branches, in Hanoi, Quy Nhon and Ho Chi Minh City; two Forest Enterprises, in Sonla and Laichau Provinces; and a shellac and vegetable resin processing factory at Hadon.

In 1990, three National Production Services, and Export-Import Forest Corporations (named NAFORIMEX I, II, III, respectively, were set up) in the Northern, Central and Southern provinces of Vietnam to provide a better network dealing with wood and NWFPs. Some provinces also have their own network of companies and factories dealing with these resources.

Supporting these institutions are various policies dealing with land allocation to collective cooperatives, individual households and private persons. Thus, the private sector has been developed hand in hand with the state-owned enterprises, providing a better opportunity for the development of NWFPs.

Table 4 shows the amount of NWFPs extracted and processed over the last five years. The collection, harvesting and processing of these products have been done by various forest enterprises, other industries, and provinces.

Vietnam has several factories which process NWFPs:

· Two factories for mechanical processing of pine resin at Quang Ninh (capacity: 1,500 tons of resin per year) and at Lam Doing, (capacity: 2,000 tons of resin per year).

· Nine other factories for manual processing of pine resin, with total capacity of 1,200 tons per year.

· Three factories for shellac processing - at Hadong (equipment from India through a UNDP/FAO project; capacity of 300 tons per year), and two plants at Sonia.

· One production line for processing and refining tuna oil (capacity of 200 tons of oil per year) erected at Cao Bang. In addition, there is small-scale manual pressing of tuna oil at localities where seeds are available in large quantities.

· One production line for the distillation of anise essential oil (capacity of 300 tons of essential oil per year) established at Langson. Eight manual processing lines are also located around Cao Bang and Lang Son.

· One rattan processing line with a capacity of 10,000 linear meters of end-products, established in Quynhon. Other rattan processing units are running in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Thuanhai province with equipment imported from Taiwan.

· One pilot small plant in Ho Chi Minh City for mechanical processing of cashew nuts, with capacity of 400 tons of raw nuts. There are over 12 other processing units for cashew nuts, with a total capacity of 17,000 tons per year, but only 4 of these are running due to a shortage of raw nuts.

· One factory in Hanoi for essential oil distillation managed by Vietnam National Institute of Sciences with equipment provided by UNDP/FAO project. The factory is producing over 12 different essential oils from forest plants and trees.

· One factory in Hanoi for essential oil distillation, managed by Vietnam National institute of Sciences, with equipment provided by a UNDP/FAO project. The factory is producing over 12 different essential oils from forest plants and trees.

Table 4. Major NWFPs harvested and processed by the Forestry Sector

Products

Unit

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

Cinnamomum bark

tons

1,520

1,450

1,080

1,901

2.100

Aloeswood

tons

78.5

81.7

45.4

36.9

20.0

Anise essential oil

tons

1,500

1,310

1,305

4,323

2,000

Tung seeds

tons

1,378

1,088

4,082

*

*

Tung oil

tons

150

90

60

10

10

Castor seeds

tons

250

190

210

229

230

Pine resin

tons

2,400

2,323

2,560

2,570

2,500

Rosin

tons

2,359

1,511

1,508

1,500

1,500

Turpentine

tons

868

378

401

50

100

Canarium resin

tons

58

100

153

*

*

Yang oil

tons

178

31

165

*

*

Damar

tons

213

411

375

*

*

Thick bamboo

million culms

135.2

121.9

131.2

128.7

132.7

Thin bamboo

million culms

179.0

155.7

177.1

149.5

149,5

Thick rattan

million meters

321.7

290.7

311.3

*

*

Thin rattan

million meters

7.7

8.7

8.4

*

*

Decorative bamboo

million culms

70.6

78.4

117.5

*

*

A, tsao kwa

tons

153

137

19

*

*

Amomum spp.

tons

103

114

83

*

*

Polygonum

tons

19

18

19

*

*

Morinda

tons

31

93

114

*

*

Other medicinal plants

tons

3,303

2,193

3,691

*

*

Mushroon

tons

108

161

134

*

*

Jew's ear mushrooms

tons

182

185

164

*

*

Fresh bamboo shoots

tons

25.1

24.2

25.1

*

*

Dried bamboo shoots

tons

975

475

321

*

*

Chestnut

tons

72

134

85

*

*

Sterculia nut

tons

232

239

234

*

*

cashew nut

tons

150

130

210

*

*

Sticklac

tons

89

143

92

*

*

Gecko

1000 pieces

44.6

22.8

106.0

*

*

Python

1000 pieces

10.7

6.6

8.3

*

*

Wild bor

tons

82

89

72

*

*

Wild meat

tons

597

860

619

*

*

Wild honey

tons

351

277

108

*

*

Cannery varnish

tons

10

8

8

*

*

Varnish for electric insulation

tons

15

15

22

*

*

Polish lacquer

tons

110

90

60

*

*

Electric insulation resin

tons

3

5

5

*

*

* data not available







NWFP exports

Previously, the export of wood and NWFPs was carried out by foreign trade agencies, with the Ministry of Forestry supplying the exports commodities as stipulated in state plans. At the beginning of 1985, however, the Ministry of Foreign Trade transferred the National Forest and Native Products Export-Import Corporation (NAFORIMEX) to the Ministry of Forestry. This has caused change in the forestry sector, allowing it to develop its organizational structures to promote the export of forest products. Since April 1990, three NAFORIMEX departments have been exporting forest products produced by this sector. The Forest Sector has supplied raw materials and helped other industrial agencies and provinces export their end-products, (e.g. BAROTEX for the export of bamboo and rattan articles, PROMEXIM for the export of wood and wood products, and, ENTEROIL for the export of essential oils).

The export of forest products has contributed considerably to national development. The export value from these commodities accounts for 3.6 percent of the country's total foreign exchange earnings.

In past years, the markets for forest products were limited to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe through protocols signed between governments. Recently, however, Vietnam has increasingly looked to other countries in selling its forest products. By 1990, two-thirds of all exports forest product were going to non-socialist countries.

Since 1981, the Ministry of Forestry has increased its focus on the protection and development of NWFP resources for export. During the late 1980s, the foreign earnings from NWFPs exports increased considerably and are now valued at more than $ 10 million per year, (not including earnings from bamboo and rattan exported by BAROTEX), making up a high percentage of total earnings in the forestry sector.

It is clear that NWFPs play an important role in Vietnam's foreign trade. The export of NWFPs should be given high priority in view of their potential to support nondestructive forest use.

Social and environmental benefits

According to statistics for 1989, 24.3 million Vietnamese live in or near forests, fully 38 percent of the country's population. The labor force in forestry amounts to 1.12 million workers, of which some 130,000 are working in the state owned-forest enterprises, and 990,000 work in the private and other sectors. During the last five years, some 500,000 shifting cultivators have been assisted in adopting fixed cultivation systems, thus raising the number of former shifting cultivators earning their living from fixed cultivation systems to 1.9 million.

Of the country's 24 million inhabitants in or near forests, 2.9 million are still actively engaged in shifting cultivation in 90 districts of the high mountains.

Development of NWFPs is an important element of the strategy to settle shifting cultivators. Some examples include:

· At the commune of Kilplanhon Ha (Lam Dong Province), there are 1,300 people, of which 50 percent are in the Koho tribe. These tribesmen have been tapping pine resin, producing about 300 tons of resin per year, which has allowed them to buy over 150 tons of rice. In the entire province of Lam Dong, hill tribesmen produced at least 50 percent of all pine resin harvested.

· In the district of Vanyen (Hoang Lien Son Province), some 1,000 hectares of Cinnamomum cassia have been cultivated and maintained by the Dzao tribe. The money obtained from 1 hectare of Cinnamomum buys 2 tons of rice.

· Seventy percent of sticklac cultivators are from hilltribes. One kilogram of sticklac buys to 5 kilograms of rice; the yield from 1 hectare pays for up to 3 tons of rice.

· During the last five years, the tribal people in Thanh Hoa Province have cultivated thick-walled bamboo. Their cultivation extends over 20,000 hectares, accounting for 60 percent of the area under this kind of bamboo. Each year, 5 to 6 million culms are harvested, and thousands of tons of fresh bamboo shoots are collected.

· One hectare of mint can produce 50 kilograms of essential oil, the equivalent of 3 tons of rice.

· One hectare planted with Artemisina anua can produce 1 ton every 6 months, worth at 1.5 tons of rice.

It is clear that in mountain areas the production of NWFPs yields higher incomes potential than rice cultivation. When hill tribesmen become aware of the income from NWFPs, they are more willing to abandon their traditional shifting cultivation in favor of NWFP production. They can become the masters and the main beneficiaries of the forest resources, and this encourages them to protect and develop the forest resource for their own benefit.

More than 320,000 people are involved in NWFP production. Generally speaking, 1 hectare of NWFPs requires 3 laborers, which is 10 times the number needed for the cultivation of tree crops for timber. The promotion of NWFPs therefore, can provide more employment to the uplanders and facilitate the establishment of forest villages which provide better conditions for social and cultural development. By doing so, a better awareness of forest resource protection will prevail among the tribesmen, and environmental preservation will be improved over large areas. The resulting reliable supply of NWFPs will also encourage the establishment of new processing factories, providing additional employment opportunities and further supporting upland development.

Guidelines and objectives for NWFP development

If previously the forestry sector ignored NWFPs, it was because there was no awareness of the roles of these products in economic and social development and in environmental protection. Within the past 5 years, however, there has been a shift with the Ministry of Forestry now recognizing the potential value of NWFPs for export and for meeting the demands of the domestic market.

The Ministry of Forestry has formulated a programme on export of NWFPs for the period 1986 to 1995. There are, however, a number of problems to overcome:

· There is no coordination of the production of NWFPs in the forestry sector, and no clear division of responsibilities between the central and provincial agencies, and the forestry sector and other sectors of the national economy. This leads to ad hoc and uncoordinated marketing, and subsequent resource depletion.

· The network of production units dealing with NWFPs is poorly structured, with little planning for forestry zones and enterprises. Investment to develop the resource base is lacking.

· Policies currently in force do not create adequate incentives for various sectors to develop and cultivate NWFPs.

General guidelines and key tasks

The following guidelines and tasks are proposed for effective development of NWFPs in the next decade:

· Sustain efforts to protect and enrich existing forests for higher production of NWFPs through appropriate management plans.

· Establish new plantations to consolidate the production of NWFPs into new key production zones.

· Emphasize short-term crops, especially through interplanting in rehabilitated forests, or intercropping in various agroforestry systems, and with trees planted through various social forestry programmes.

· Promote improved NWFP harvesting techniques. Technical assistance should reach every forest enterprise, cooperative, and household interested in growing NWFPs.

· Intensify the processing of NWFPs to enhance their value, to make them suitable for foreign markets, and to produce new commodities of higher value, even from second-rate raw materials.

· Research the flows of NWFPs into and out of the country to determine appropriate levels of production.

· Collaborate more closely with various programs on settling shifting cultivators to motivate them to adopt NWFP production systems.

· Take greater advantage of technical assistance from international organizations, of joint ventures with foreign companies, and of loans from international banks.

Building up the NWFP resource base

The Ministry of Forestry has submitted to the Government a program to "build up 5 million hectares of forests on denuded hills and open lands" which includes the establishment of 500,000 hectares of forests for the production of NWFPs. The plan is to create 14.3 million hectares of forests as forest estates and to increase the national forest cover to 43 percent.

Based upon the natural, economic, and social conditions for the production of NWFPs and the marketing situation that prevails, significant expansion of NWFPs is planned between now and the year 2000 (Table 5).

Table 5. Planned expansion of NWFPs production in Vietnam, 1991-2000

Description

1991-1995 (1,000 ha)

1996-2000 (1,000 ha)

Cinnamomum cassia

10

20

Pinus merkusii

100

150

Host trees for lac

2

3

Tung tree

10

20

Castor tree

5

10

Cashew tree

30

50

Products of ess. oil

7

10

Anile

1

2

Medicinal Plants

1

1

Rattan

2

3

Bamboo

10

15

Other

22

16

Total

200

300

Management and operation planning

It is necessary to quickly inventory the areas, yield and quality of NWFPs in Vietnam. This will be the basis of various programmes for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of the resources. Valuable non-wood forest products should be carefully inventoried to support their sustainable development.

Adequate investment and vertical expansion should be encouraged for the production of the valuable NWFPs, both natural and cultivated.

The three corporations dealing with the production, processing and export of forest products should give high priority to establishing long-term co-production agreements with provinces, which are the main producers of NWFP raw material.

Incentives

Research should be carried out to elaborate incentive policies to encourage NWFP production, especially for the mountain areas and for tribal groups. Forest and forest lands should be allocated to individual households (which, in the mountain areas, are the basic units for land use and farming), according to policies now in force.

Strengthening and consolidating state-owned forest enterprises should be accelerated to provide needed technical assistance and product marketing in the NWFP areas.

Investments should be made for comprehensive implementation of various projects related to the production of non-wood forest products of major importance, following approved feasibility studies. An investment of about $300 to $400 is needed to establish a 1 hectare plot for NWFP production. Individual households could be given $500 at the outset as financial assistance. For newly established settlement areas in which people are willing to grow NWFPs for profit, assistance of about 500 kilograms of rice per hectare of new plantation, and 300 kilogram of rice per hectare of rehabilitated natural forests, should be provided as support and incentives.

Research and training

There is a particular need to strengthen the research capability of the Special Forest Products Research Centre to enable it to more effectively support NWFP development and extension. Scientific workers and field officers should be trained and should attend refresher courses within and outside the country, with an emphasis on social forestry, which is new to most forest officers. The training of local extension technicians for various work with ethnic groups is also very important.

International cooperation

Under the present economic conditions, it is necessary to attract new sources of investment from international organizations and foreign entrepreneurs for joint ventures.

Several FAO/UNDP projects have provided valuable support in the development of Vietnam's NWFPs, including work in the areas of lac cultivation and cashew nut production. More efforts of these types are needed, including support for study tours and fellowships in foreign countries.

Vietnam is committed to the sustainable development of its NWFP resources. It is firmly believed that with the valuable assistance of FAO, UNDP, and other international organizations, the great potential of this field will be realized.

Bamboo found throughout Asia-is perhaps the region's most commonly used NWFP.

Literature cited

Dot, P.X. 1991. Let's consolidate achievements gained during 1986-1990 and implement renovation policies for developing our sector. Forestry Review No. 6.

General Statistical Office. 1990. Statistical data R. S. Vietnam (1976-1989). Statistical Publishing House. Hanoi.

Ministry of Forestry. 1989. Forest statistical data during 1986-1988. Statistical Publishing House. Hanoi. 1989.

Ministry of Forestry. 1991. 30 years construction and development of forestry (1961-1990). Statistical Publishing House. Hanoi.

Thy. T.S. 1991. Renovation policies implemented in the last five years. Forestry review No. 6.

Tien. L.V. 1990. Tropical Forestry Action Plan in the field of special forest products. Special forest products review No 1.

UNDP/MOF/FAO. 1991. Forestry sector review VIE/88/037: summary of main report-Tropical Forestry Action Plan. Hanoi.

Vi. T. 1992. Some main special forest products: production variant of a few SFP during 19881992.

Xuan. P.T. 1991. Programme for reafforesting 5 million ha and establishing agroforestry systems 2 million ha of open lands. Forestry Review No. 6.


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