EU project brings Vietnamese phytopharmaceuticals to international standards

June 11, 2016 | 14:00
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The EU will help Vietnamese phytopharmaceutical enterprises enhance their competitiveness by bringing their products up to international standards.
Alejandro Montalban, head of Cooperation and Development of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, speaks at the launch of the project in Hanoi on June 8. (Photo: EU Delegation)

A European Union-funded project entitled "Scaling up of Ethical Biotrade Initiatives within the phytopharmaceutical sector" was launched on June 8. The project, worth EUR2 million ($2.24 million) and operational between 2016 and 2020, is jointly implemented by HELVETAS Vietnam, National Institute of Medicinal Materials (NIMM), and Centre for Rural Economy Development (CRED).

The project is expected to involve 12 phytopharmaceutical enterprises, 5,000 farmers and households, as well as relevant agencies from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Its objective is to increase the income of farmers/households by supporting the effective implementation of Ethical Biotrade value chains, the consolidation of knowledge and skills in cultivating, harvesting, collecting, and processing ingredients, all in a manner that respects biodiversity and environmental protection. The project will also make every effort to contribute to the improvement of the policy environment to ensure the sustainable development of the phytopharmaceutical sector in Vietnam.

Speaking at the event, Alejandro Montalban, Head of Cooperation and Development of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, stated that, "This marks an important milestone in the promotion of a sustainable Ethical Biotrade business model within Vietnam’s natural ingredients sector. We hope to see the goal of making Vietnam an internationally recognised supplier of natural ingredients become visible and noticeable in the future.”

Vietnam is in possession of vast natural ingredient resources, which could be used as raw materials in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries. However, the domestic supply has been dwindling due to overexploitation and a lack of conservation solutions. Manufacturers, as a consequence, have to import raw materials from countries such as China or India in large quantities but questionable quality. The national pharmaceutical sector is therefore vulnerable to foreign competition, even on its own market, let alone penetrating international markets.

The phytopharmaceutical enterprises selected to join the project account for about 80 per cent of the market for medicinal material-based products in Vietnam and are strongly committed to sustainability by ethical sourcing of ingredients and establishing value chains in compliance with international standards.

The biotrade initiative was launched by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1996 to support the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Biotrade refers to activities of collection, production, transformation, and commercialization of goods and services derived from native biodiversity satisfying the criteria of environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

By By Bich Thuy

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