Lao Cai, a Northern midland and mountainous province of Vietnam, has much potential to develop medicinal and medicinal intercropping with ancient Shan tea, which can create more jobs for ethnic minority women to improve their income and increase their status in the family and social-economic activities.
Getting back to nature is an emerging global trend that leads to the demand for medicinal plants, and ancient Shan tea is domestically and internationally increasing. Bac Ha and Bat Xat districts of Lao Cai province are the mountainous districts of Lao Cai that has ethnic minority groups represent 65% of the population, and more than 90 percent of ethnic minority women engage in traditional agriculture activities. Lao Cai also has much potential to develop medicinal plants and ancient Shan tea. However, due to several constraints such as lack of access to markets, weak linkages between farmers and enterprises, lack of investment capital, and lack of capacities to produce quality products, prevent ethnic minority women in Lao Cai from participating in the value chain and economic decision making, and benefiting from these two value chains.
With the desire to make changes, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in Vietnam (Helvetas Vietnam) is implementing the project entitled “Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Market Systems Development in Medicinal Plants, and Shan Tea intercropping with medicinal plants in Lao Cai”. The project is funded by the Australian Government/the Aus4Equality initiative under The Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program. This project will improve the social and economic status of ethnic minority women through value chain development interventions in the sub-sectors of organic Shan tea and medicinal plants in Bac Ha and ethical medicinal plants in Bat Xat district by capacity building for ethnic minority women and connect them with national and international tea and medicinal factories/companies.
The objectives of the project are to:
Helvetas is one of the most experienced and largest development organisation in Switzerland, which has 30 country offices around that world. In Vietnam, Helvetas has been working with farmers, enterprises, and government to completed several projects to improve farming and marketing systems, the water supply, and local governance. The experience in project management of Helvetas in Vietnam and the relationship with Helvetas Global will be advantages for the project to find and access high-value export markets in Europe, USA, Japan, and South Korea to achieve project’s objectives that improve livelihood and increase social status for ethnic minority women in Lao Cai.