Sustainable rattan industry sees much potential for growth with greater support from the government | WWF

Sustainable rattan industry sees much potential for growth with greater support from the government

Posted on
25 June 2014

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – On 25 June 2014, Cambodia's small and medium rattan entrepreneurs representing the industry, researchers and experts in conservation of the rattan resource, local communities from the project's provinces, relevant government agencies and staff of WWF met to report on activities and results accomplished during the past three years of the project implementation.

Participants presented their achievements, best practices and lessons learnt as the result of promoting sustainable rattan production in Cambodia. They took the opportunity to emphasise the importance and need of policy support from various agencies of the government in order to really push for sustainable rattan market and industry in Cambodia and the Mekong region. The event marked an important activity part of closing of the Rattan Project phase III.

The WWF project covers three markets in the region - Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam - and is funded by IKEA as well as Germany's Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation (DEG). Working in partnership with the Rattan Association of Cambodia (RAC), the Forestry Administration, Ministry of Environment, and Ministry of Commerce, as well as local authorities, this project aims to expand the existing supply and production chain of sustainable rattan, with the goal of supplying 1000 tonnes of sustainably-managed raw materials for production by 2014.

WWF-Cambodia has been supporting market and business links along the supply chains in relation to the existing resource available. The project also supports the review of rattan policy that benefits and permits rattan export, which has led to the export of 5 tonnes of semi-rattan products to Vietnam.

WWF’s Rattan Project started in 2006 and achieved great results over the past 9 years. Implemented in three phases, the first phase focused mainly on research, inventory, and the growing of rattan plantation for the first time in Prek Thount, Kampot Province in 2007. By 2009, the project branched out towards sustainable rattan market, product design, and quality management, which contributed to the establishment of the Rattan Association of Cambodia. With RAC taking lead, this has helped to increase job opportunities and improve sustainable natural resource management, furthering sustainability in rattan production and trade in Cambodia.

“Rattan is a unique product and Cambodia has the capacity to host more than 20 species that support livelihoods and national economy. It is time to have Cambodian rattan product recognised in the international and regional market for its sustainable and green production,” said Mr Chhith Sam Ath, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia.

Meanwhile, much progress has been made. Today, rattan resources are still facing high risk of over-exploitation due to illegal logging and forest land conversion. Rattan is one of the most important non-timber forest products in Cambodia as it supports local livelihoods through providing food, material for shelter, products with export value and the ability to supply sustainable and green products to rattan processors. WWF is calling for urgent action to stop deforestation that is depleting the natural capital for future development.

Cambodia's current rattan production capacity and skills could be further improved with sustainable management of resource and clean design production. WWF urges the Cambodian Government to review and reinforce policy that will help promote rattan products for market in Cambodia as well as for export. 

“Rattan production helps improve local livelihoods without destroying the forest. Income made from rattan is contributing to the community’s sustainable forest management. In Cambodia, there are a lot of potential commercial rattan resources in the forest, but harvesting needs to be sustainable," said Mr Lip Cheang, President of Rattan Association of Cambodia (RAC). "Rattan Association of Cambodia always integrates sustainability in both rattan resource and business development under strong cooperation with WWF, the Forestry Administration and the Ministry of Environment.”

The rattan project increases capacity-building for RAC's members and its stakeholders of rural populations, by assisting them in product development and design, clean production techniques, establishing sustainable rattan management plans, and enhance local livelihoods, as well as supporting biodiversity protection within the rattan site.

“Currently, the rattan business in Cambodia faces two main barriers,” said Mr Lun Yeng, Senior Consultant at RAC, “One is the issues for SMEs is that they are unable to produce under the economies of scale due to high costs in transportation and electricity that adds to production costs. The other barrier is Cambodia's export regulation on rattan which involves complicated procedures increases time and costs.”

By focusing on the whole value chain of rattan production through sustainable rattan harvesting, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), domestic and international buyers. Cambodia is able to produce and trade rattan products of higher quality and value in US million dollar per year. Thus, the export regulation on Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) items should be simplified to be shorter and easier.  Through these trade performances, the community will have more incentive to conserve rattan and its forest ecosystems.