Green shoots are growing
Posted on 05/08/2020
Bamboo shoots are synonymous with Vietnamese cuisine and are grown in many areas of the country. As well as being a popular food ingredient in Vietnam, bamboo shoots provide an important source of income for households living in the buffer zones of protected forests in north west Vietnam, including Hoang Lien – Van Ban Nature Reserve in Lao Cai and Van Ho District in Son La Province. As bamboo grows naturally in the forest, bamboo shoot cultivation does not require a large capital investment or and constant tending by farmers. However, production is small scale and inefficient with outdated technology for semi-processing at household level. Ethnic minority women are highly active in the collection of this crop, however, as traditional production practices do not meet market requirements and there are poor linkages to processors and buyers, bamboo shoots are often sold for a low price to local traders.
Other constraints to the sector include a lack of sustainable practices and quality standards applied to
the collection and cultivation of bamboo shoots and an absence of regulations at the community level
for the sustainable collection of bamboo.
Bamboo shoot harvesting and semi-processing is also very labour-intensive, which places a heavy
burden on women. At a household level, although it is women that are earning the income from
bamboo, it is often the men that make the major financial decisions.
GREAT partners CRED and Hoang Lien Van Ban Natural Reservation Area Project
Management Unit are supporting ethnic minority women in Van Ho, Son La and Van Ban, Lao Cai
engaged in bamboo shoot production by establishing links with major suppliers of bamboo shoots
including Kim Boi Company, Yen Thanh Company and Thuy Son Cooperative. These projects are
also helping to shift communities to bamboo shoot cultivation rather than relying on forest harvesting.
This includes training farmers on organic cultivation practices and building capacity of women-led
cooperatives in growing organic bamboo shoots. This will not only protect the environment but also
ensure a sustainable source of income going forward.
CRED through its project activities has also introduced labour-saving tools to semi-process bamboo
shoots, directly addressing the time burden of women and has also organised gender equality training
for men and women. Hoang Lien Natural Reservation Area Project Management Unit has had a
specific focus on advocating sustainable bamboo shoot management policies.
These two bamboo partnerships will benefit nearly 1,000 ethnic minority women, including women
from the Dao ethnic group in Van Ban, Lao Cai and the Thai, Muong and Mong ethnic minorities
groups in Van Ho, Son La. These women are expected to have increased income and improved
confidence to speak up in the family, within the cooperative and society.