Published 8 August 2016

Teaching the teachers—learning how to train local harvesters

Bac Kan, Viet Nam, 8th August 2016—TRAFFIC, in collaboration with experts from the Hanoi University of Pharmacy and Bac Kan Forest Protection Department (FPD), this weekend held a “Training of Trainers” (ToT) workshop as part of a programme to train local harvesters and communal resource management board members in four key sites in Bac Kan province.  

The two-day event equipped 12 FPD staff and 18 community representatives with the knowledge and skills to instruct local harvesters about the FairWild Standard principles for sustainable wild collection of two species of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), Gynostemma pentaphyllum and Cibotium barometz

A training of trainers event was held this weekend as part of a programme to train local harvesters in Bac Kan province, Viet Nam © TRAFFIC

Training focused on sustainable collection principles such as collection cycles and appropriate collection quantities as well as species identification. In addition, the ToT provided trainees with knowledge of co-operative structures and objectives to encourage the formation of formal collector co-operatives in the local communities. With their newfound knowledge, the new trainers will instruct local collector communities how to monitor and evaluate operations and teach them proper bookkeeping and reporting.  

The event took place as part of a project funded by the UK Darwin Initiative that started in April 2015 and launched in October 2015. This project is working towards a sustainable trade in MAP resources and improving the livelihoods of local communities through implementation of the FairWild Standard. The foundations for this project were laid in 2011, when TRAFFIC and the Bac Kan FPD launched a project to improve local livelihoods by employing sustainable wild plant harvesting techniques. With earlier funding from the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF) and now the Darwin Initiative, TRAFFIC has supported these groups with tools and equipment for harvesting of MAP resources. 

Under a formal MOU with Bac Kan FPD and the pharmaceutical companies DK Pharma and DK Natura, communities have been encouraged to develop more formal structures facilitating sustainable harvesting. So far, one formal co-operative and 15 groups have been established in four districts of Bac Kan province, including through a set of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) trainingsin 2015-16.

The 30 trainees from the latest ToT event will now take on an important role as instructors to integrate sustainable harvesting practices into the Bac Kan province MAP project sites. This knowledge will spread to over 1000 local collectors. Training helps the trainers understand the context and tap into their own experiences to develop strong relationships with local collectors. These relationships will be key to mentor and train collectors, facilitating the integration of sustainable harvesting into the daily practices following FairWild Standard principles. 

Trieu Van Ngan, a Bac Kan FPD officer at the ToT event said, “Since the training is to local citizens, we will be more effective at transferring what we have learnt to the collectors in our communities.”

Nguyen Ba Cuong, a Programme Officer for TRAFFIC, has worked closely with these groups and co-operatives, local communities and FPD staff, to increase the sustainable harvesting practices in Bac Kan. “The ToT event is an important step to grow capacity in the local communities for the sustainable harvesting of MAPs. These trainees will take on the important role as instructors and will be empowered to transfer key expertise efficiently and effectively to others, helping ensure sustainable harvesting practices and the FairWild Standard reach a large number of local harvesters in Bac Kan province.”