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UN joint programme increases employment opportunities for Vietnamese handicrafts producers

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Farmer in Phu Tho Province tapping a lacquer tree
Ha Noi, 22 March 2011 - Despite an almost 80 percent drop in its poverty rate over the last 15 years, Viet Nam continues to struggle with significant inequalities and need, particularly in rural areas where the vast majority of the country’s poor reside. Farming is often not sufficient to keep households above the national poverty line, and many farming families rely on producing handicrafts and the raw materials they require in order to survive.

Now a joint UN program funded by the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) is increasing income and employment opportunities for growers and collectors of raw materials and producers of handicrafts. The initiative targets 4,800 households in the north of the country, including 1,400 families from disadvantaged ethnic minorities such as the Thai, Muong and H’mong. About 40% of these households live below the poverty line of 200,000 VND per capita/month (about 0.35 US$/day).

The UN programme’s approach is to develop better integrated, environmentally sustainable activities in five craft sectors: bamboo and rattan, sericulture and weaving, sea grass, lacquerware and handmade paper.

Within the framework of the Joint Programme, the United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) organized a “Technical Seminar on Lacquer Collection and Processing”.

Attending the seminar were representatives from Phu Tho Province, national experts and scientists, SMEs, lacquerware artists, VIETRADE, VIETCRAFT and other related agencies. The seminar was facilitated by Japanese experts from Meiji University, Okinawa University, and Tokyo Technology Institute and Hanoi University of Technology.

Opening at the seminar, Mr. Gilabert Patrick – Representative of UNIDO in Viet Nam – noted that, ”this seminar is part of UNIDO’s efforts aiming at improving lacquer production in Viet Nam”.

UNIDO`s intervention is focused on supporting SMEs and grass-root producers in the handicraft sector adapt and adopt cleaner production methods and techniques and promotion of innovative and sustainable product development and designs. These would improve productivity and quality of products, reducing environmental impact, improving working conditions and enabling access to international value chains.

In Viet Nam, lacquer has a long tradition. More than 2,000 years ago, during the period of the Dong Son culture, the Vietnamese people already knew how to process raw lacquer to make functional and decorative items. Vietnamese modern lacquer-work is an integral part of national cultural identity. Many villages all over the country are now engaged in lacquer-work. Today, Vietnamese lacquer ware products are exported to many countries. Tam Nong district in Phu Tho province is a famous area in Northern Viet Nam for cultivation of lacquer trees. Lacquer production has been chosen to be one key strategic sector for economic development in the district.

At present, however, over 70 percent of lacquer sap harvested as raw material is exported to China against fluctuating prices, whilst only the remaining 30 percent remains for domestic lacquer ware production.

At the seminar, Prof. Miyakoshi Tessuo and his colleagues shared experiences and practices on lacquer chemistry analysis, lacquer craft and lacquer processing in Japan. Mr. Bach Trong Phuc presented an analysis on the composition of Vietnamese natural lacquer. Japanese experts also introduced other green products made from lacquer tree skin and lacquer seed such as candle, soap and wax.

Mr. Dinh Van Hien from Lacquer World company pointed out the main problem, noting that lacquer ware producers in Phu Tho and other provinces prefer cashew nut oil over lacquer liquid due to its relatively lower price, consistent quality, more stable supply chain and, most importantly, the shorter time required for drying after painting. It’s hoped that the experts of UNIDO can find a solution to shorten the drying time so that enterprises can apply local lacquer liquid in mass production of lacquer ware to meet the market demand”, expressed Mr. Dinh Van Hien.

The main conclusions of the seminar, together with fact finding analysis of the Japanese experts and national expert during a field mission to Phu Tho province and surrounding Hanoi will provide a strong foundation to formulate recommendations, solutions for UNIDO’s next activities to improve the process of lacquer production in Vietnam towards green production.

For more information contact:

The Programme Management Unit
Joint Programme Green Production and Trade
Address: 6th Floor, Ly Thuong Kiet 20, Hanoi, Viet Nam
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fax: +84 4 39393615

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