According to the General Department of Forestry, cinnamon is one of the important spices with great export values, however, the production of this sector is lacking sustainable development strategy, and the link between processing and exporting enterprises and cinnamon growers is still limited.

In the recently held Conference on Sustainable Development of Vietnam’s Cinnamon, the Department of Forestry Production Development (General Department of Forestry) said that the total area of cinnamon in the country is about 170,000 ha. Among them, cinnamon is grown in provinces such as Lao Cai (53.3 thousand ha), Yen Bai (81 thousand ha), and Quang Nam (about 15 thousand ha). These three localities account for about 70% of the total area of cinnamon in Vietnam. The annual volume of cinnamon shells is estimated at 900,000 – 1.2 million tonnes. The average production of cinnamon harvest is 70,000 – 80,000 tonnes/year. Processors of cinnamon shells often buy directly from the collectors and carry out rough processing (screening, sorting, peeling, drying) and refined processing (cutting and grinding, removal of metals and residues, packaging). 

Improving the quality of cinnamon raw material contributes to meeting the demand for domestic consumption and export. (Photo: BLC)

Vietnam is the third-largest producer and exporter of cinnamon by production worldwide, after Indonesia and China. Growing cinnamon is currently a livelihood for hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority households in remote provinces; contributing to the socio-economic development of many localities. Vietnam’s export value of cinnamon products increased continuously, reaching 245.4 million USD in 2020, 274 million USD in 2021, and is expected to reach 276 million USD in 2022. In particular, the largest market for Vietnamese cinnamon products is India (90.7 million USD), the United States (54.2 million USD), and South Korea (6.2 million USD).

The cinnamon industry in Vietnam has many advantages when the demand in high-end markets such as the US, South Korea, and Europe is increasing; free trade agreements, especially the CPTPP, VPA/FLEGT Agreement allow for the reduction or abolition of import and export tariffs on wood and wood products.

In addition to the advantages, according to the assessment of the Department of Forestry Production Development, currently, the cinnamon sector has no strategic orientation yet for sustainable development at the national level. The General Department of Forestry said that cinnamon is a forest product with increasing international market demand, and the area of cinnamon cultivation in Vietnam is also expanding and developing strongly to meet market demand. Thus, without timely directions, there is a risk of unsustainable development issues.

Besides, there are limitations in techniques and capital for deep-processing investment to improve the value of products. The specialized technical capacity of agricultural-forestry extension has not yet met the actual requirements. In addition, the links between processing and exporting enterprises and cinnamon growers have not been developed. Currently, some cinnamon exporting enterprises have complied with the importer’s principles, but cinnamon products are still at risk of heavy metal contamination from raw material growing areas. Therefore, strengthening the links between enterprises and growing areas will contribute to ensuring the quality of processed raw materials.

Strengthening the link between enterprises and households in raw material areas is important for quality control. (Photo: Internet)

To develop Vietnamese cinnamon in a sustainable way, bring more export values, and create more jobs and income for farmers, currently, the relevant departments and enterprises are taking steps to promote the establishment of a representative association for the cinnamon industry; The draft for the establishment of a cinnamon working group has been submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for approval, which proposes the Ministry to develop a national development strategy for cinnamon.

In order to improve some metal content beyond standards and export products to difficult markets such as the US and the EU, there are many opinions that localities should coordinate with businesses, NGOs, and experts in investigation, evaluation, sampling, etc. It is necessary to make appropriate policies that are strategic and comprehensive for the cinnamon chain. Besides, chemical residues in cinnamon and on the banned list must be improved such as propagate cinnamon production areas towards organic, ethical biodiversity trade standards (UEBT/RA). At the same time, the trading and use of pesticides must be inspected and controled.

Towards the goal of stable and sustainable development, the cinnamon production and processing industry should improve the quality of products following the market requirements. Cinnamon products must promote local knowledge and create community participation. In particular, it is necessary to promote the formation of cooperative groups to associate farmers to create raw material areas and consume products. Along with that, the State and local authorities should have appropriate mechanisms and policies to encourage enterprises to invest in the production and processing of cinnamon./.