Ms. Trieu Mui Pham, a 94-year old cinnamon farmer, brought the first cinnamon tree to Lao Cai province in 1975. Nowadays, cinnamon production and processing is a booming industry which lifted many households out of poverty. “Cinnamon trees do not only serve as poverty reduction trees, but also as wealth making trees”, says Mr. To Manh Tien, Vice Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Lao Cai.
On 3-4 June 2017, Ms. Trieu Mui Pham and many other cinnamon producers, public actors, scientists, processing companies and traders visited the Cinnamon Trade Promotion Event in Bac Ha district, which was organised by SNV and its partners under the Women’s Economic Empowerment through Agricultural Value Chain Enhancement (WEAVE) project to promote and enhance an inclusive cinnamon value chain to accelerate women’s economic empowerment in Lao Cai province.
The event kicked-off with a cinnamon promotion workshop with presentations of cinnamon cooperatives, traders, scientists and key public actors. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion among public and private actors and cinnamon farmers to share experiences and discuss challenges and opportunities in the cinnamon value chain. “Due to the efficiency of the crop and the large market, the cinnamon industry has huge potential for growth. With a gender-sensitive focus from public and private actors, combined with gender-transformative interventions by SNV, the sector can serve as an important accelerator for women’s economic empowerment in the province”, says Mr. To Manh Tien, Vice Director of DARD in Lao Cai.
After the workshop a contract was signed between the head of a cinnamon farmer interest group and Chien Thang Cooperative, a private processing company. The contract seals the deal to buy 400-500 ton of cinnamon products per year from the farmer group for a competitive price, which is determined by the market and not by an individual collector. Under the WEAVE project SNV promotes and facilitates the signing of fair farming contracts between producer groups and processing companies and traders. The contracts strengthen the linkages between producers, collectors and processing companies to coordinate and promote production and marketing in the cinnamon value chain. The contracts also reduce risks and uncertainty for both parties as compared to buying and selling cinnamon on the open market.
At the vibrant market place in Bac Ha, cinnamon farmer groups and companies, but also the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) proudly displayed their cinnamon products. The booths at the trade fair provided an excellent opportunity for market engagement between different actors in the value chain and encouraged the creation of local networks. The Provincial authorities are committed and have a solid plan in place to boost the cinnamon value chain in the province. In order to create favourable conditions to attract enterprises to invest in production and processing of cinnamon and to promote sustainable development of the sector the Provincial People's Committee has issued the Decision "Planning of the cinnamon growing area and the processing system in Lao Cai province 2015 - 2025".
During the Cinnamon Event the local authorities also expressed their support and commitment to enhance the cinnamon value chain and accelerate women’s economic empowerment through their active engagement in the organisation of the event and the panel discussions and by formally opening the workshop. On Saturday evening June 3, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was organised to underline the commitment of SNV and local partners to enhance the inclusive cinnamon value chain. Next to that, there was fun and excitement through local music and dance performances. The 94-year old cinnamon farmer, Ms. Trieu Mui Pham, travelled 2 hours to attend the shows and ceremony. With a smile on her face, she proudly realised the impact of her first cinnamon tree.
The WEAVE project is implemented by a consortium of Oxfam, Care and SNV between June 2016 and August 2019 with funding from the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The project aims to promote more equitable gender relations at the household level, more effective producer groups resulting in increased income for members at the community level and an improved enabling environment focusing on current government policies and socio-economic development plans. The project will be implemented in two of the poorest provinces in the Northern mountainous region of Vietnam, Lao Cai and Bac Kan, and builds upon ongoing work of the three NGOs in these provinces. The project adds value to these existing initiatives by strengthening the gender equality components through a combined gender transformative and value chain approach.