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The Forest and Farm Facility Phase II (FFF II) in Bac Kan province: Promoting sustainable collective economy development
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The Forest and Farm Facility Phase II of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Vietnam has been implementing from 2019 to 2022 in the communes of Phuong Vien (Cho Don district), Yen Duong and My Phuong (Ba Be district) with the goal of organizing and implementing activities to support the Forest and Farm Producer Organisations (THT, HTX or FFPOs) including women, youth and indigenous peoples are the primary agents of change for climate resilient landscapes and improved livelihoods. Up to now, the Program has changed the economic development mind-set of ethnic minorities, actively contributing to hunger eradication and poverty reduction in the localities.

The FFF phase II program has contributed to climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience through the direct participation of cooperatives and collective groups and combine with integrated livelihood approaches

To implement the Program, the Provincial Farmers’ Union (FU) has coordinated with the VNFU-FFF Project Management Board to conduct a survey on the existing situation of production, business and processing of agricultural and forestry products in 03 project communes. At the same time, to survey and collect information and data on production situation and needs of members of FFPOs  in 03 communes with the participation of 750 households.

Simultaneously, the provincial FU sent 60 officials and members of the FFPOs, local leaders to participate in training courses on facilitation skills and market analysis and development, communication skills, business incubation and risk management skills, agricultural cooperative management (My.Coop), organic agriculture and participatory assurance system (PGS), tree inventory skills, project proposal skills, FFF annual planning meeting, etc.

Provincial FU selected core groups at commune level in 3 project communes, including 18 people (06 people/commune) and 02 provincial facilitators, 02 district facilitators (1 person/district), 03 commune facilitators (1 person/commune) to support the implementation of activities organized at the grassroots; organized 03 focus group discussions in 3 communes with 120 delegates to find out the difficulties and problems and plan to implement activities in the following time.

Provincial FU has organized 03 roundtable discussion meetings at commune level in the project communes with 105 participants to exchange and create unity among FFPOs, leaders villages, local authorities and related organizations to facilitate and support the development and linkage of groups in production and business. At the communal roundtable discussions, there were some farmer's opinions and challenges which were immediately resolved by the leaders of the Commune People's Committee.

In addition to these, the provincial FU also organized 2 roundtable discussions  at district level with 90 delegates and a provincial roundtable with 40 participants. At the meetings, leaders of the Party Committees, local authorities and related sectors directly listened to the opinions, difficulties and problems of the FFPOs, thereby directing the related departments and units to solve and create favourable conditions for FFPOs to produce and do business effectively.

Through the roundtable discussion meetings, FFPOs have been supported to solved some difficulties and revised production and business plans to bring products to the market. Specifically, the FFPOs’ products have been introduced by the province in markets such as Hanoi, Vinh Phuc, and Ho Chi Minh City and opened a number of stores to introduce OCOP products. Nhung Luy cooperative (Yen Duong Commune, Ba Be District) has been supported a high-tech membrane house and product drying line worth 600 million VND by the Sub-Department of Rural Development and the provincial office of Poverty Reduction Coordination. Hoan Thanh Cooperative (Phuong Vien Commune, Cho Don District) was supported a total of 150 million VND of milling machines by the New Rural Construction Coordination Office. Some cooperative members have been trained to improve management capacity, etc.

The provincial FU also cooperated with VNFU-FFF management board organizes to successfully organize a network sharing conference with more than 70 delegates including representatives of the FFF provinces such as Son La, Hoa Binh, Yen Bai, Thai Nguyen and related departments and agencies and other activities as the set work plan.

At the same time, the provincial FU organized a training course on organic rice cultivation for 30 participants, instructing members on how to take water and soil samples for testing in Hanoi. As a result, all the tested samples met the requirements for organic production; 01 technical training course on planting long rotation timer combine with non-timber forest products for 28 participants.

The provincial FU directed the Ba Be and Cho Don district FUs to established forest and farm models including: Growing ginger, planting Japonica rice varieties according to organic standard in Phuong Vien commune, Cho Don district; growing fragrant zucchini in Yen Duong commune, Ba Be district. At the same time, organized 02 technical training courses for 40 participants and support more than 10 tons of fertilizer, 3 tons of ginger seeds to implement the models. The provincial FU also regularly monitors and evaluates the implementation of organic models of rice and fragrant zucchini.

The provincial FU has supported collective groups and cooperatives to prepare 9 small projects and send them to the VNFU-FFF. 02 proposals have been approved, including: Project “Establishment of organic local Nep Tai sticky rice modeland promoting herb growing in association with agriculture experienced tourism " of Yen Duong cooperative and the project " Improving the management and effectiveness of organic rice farming model in combination with forest and farm development of Hoan Thanh cooperative, Phuong Vien commune " of Hoan Thanh cooperative.

Hoang Thanh cooperative has held a propaganda workshop to raise awareness on collective economy, production association, Decree 109/ND-CP on organic agriculture for 50 participants; organized 03 training courses on organic rice cultivation techniques and microbiological fertilizer production techniques for 75 participants. The cooperative organized a survey, assess the needs of the member households to build a model of Bao Thai organic rice cultivation with an area of 01ha. After, the trainings, members of cooperative have make microbiological composting for their rice production. Yen Duong Cooperative has established 02 groups to grow Tai sticky rice according to organic standard with an area of 03ha; organized 03 training courses on organic rice cultivation techniques, microbiological fertilizer production techniques for 75 participants and they also applied what they have learnt to their fields.

In addition, the provincial FU has reorganized and strengthened 01 collective group; established one collective group; Up to now, there are 3 communes participating in the FFF program, with 03 cooperatives and 04 collective groups with 82 household members.

Typically, Yen Duong Cooperative has changed the direction of business development, applying the experience in production organization, initially showing positive results. After more than 1 year of operation, Yen Duong cooperative has determined the direction of development and created jobs for its members and local people. Currently, the cooperative cooperates with 170 local cooperative members in production activities.

The products which Yen Duong cooperative focuses on producing and bringing to the market such as organic fragrant zucchini, Tai sticky rice, hand-coated vermicelli, traditional handmade woven bamboo and rattan products, and activities related to services of experience tourism, etc. The cooperative has organized 07 groups of households to participate in joint production and business such as group of growing and producing pumpkin for 67 associated households; Tai sticky rice growing and production group has 34 participating households; The group of traditional handmade knitting from bamboo, rattan and bamboo includes 25 participating and associated households, supporting the consumption of some local agricultural products for more than 170 households, contributing to creating jobs and increasing income for farmers.

It can be seen that the implementation of the FFF Program Phase II in the past time in the province has contributed to promoting more favorable mechanisms and policies related to cooperatives and collective groups; strengthen the business capacity, market access and finance of FFPOs through the value chain linked to gender equality and providing services to members; the awareness of cooperatives and cooperatives on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience to climate change have been improved with integrated livelihood measures; access to equal social and cultural services of FFPOs have been enhanced, thereby contributing sustainable socio-economic development and poverty reduction in the localities.

Phase II (2019-2022), the FFF program is being implemented mainly in 4 provinces of Hoa Binh, Son La, Bac Kan and Yen Bai. The goal of Phase II of the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) is to support forest and farm producers and their organizations to be primary change agents of Climate Resilient Landscapes and Improved Livelihoods.
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