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In community tourism, women dare to "speak up"

Community tourism associated with converting agricultural methods only really started in Chieng Yen commune, Van Ho district, Son La province from 2020 – when the national grid was pulled across the villages. Women in the villages learned to do tourism and learn chemical-free farming from scratch, and up to now, those transformations have helped them “dare to speak” and raise their voices.
Change habits
Chieng Yen commune is famous for the stream winding around Buot village. For 20 years now, the “rules” have banned fishing, anyone who violates will be fined 20kg of rice. Ms. Vi Thi Theu remembers: “Ten years ago, when we were young people, we often went to the stream bank to enjoy the cool air at night. We also had the duty of guarding and watching to see if anyone stole fish. At that time, the commune leaders had the idea of ​​”keeping the fish stream for later tourism”. But 4 years ago, when there was a tourism project coming to the village, to us, “travel” was still something strange and distant.”
In 2019, the Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Research Center – ADC, the Northwest Development Cooperation Center and TABA Social Enterprise cooperated to develop the Rau non-glutinous rice value chain through the project “Promoting equality”. world through improving economic efficiency of agricultural production and tourism development” (GREAT) in Van Ho district. The project focuses on women’s economic empowerment by increasing their participation and effectiveness in the production and trading of specialty rice.

Làm du lịch cộng đồng, phụ nữ đã dám “lên tiếng”

Households in Phu Mau village study organic agricultural production – PHOTO: D.H.
That year, Buot village had two landmark events at the same time: restoring the native Rau rice variety – chemical-free farming and tourism with the companionship of the Northwest Development Cooperation Center.

Buot village is a particularly difficult village of Chieng Yen commune. More than 90% of the livelihoods of Thai, Dao, and Muong people depend on agriculture, but agricultural products are not consumed stably and prices are unstable, so their lives have remained difficult for many years. The day the project was announced to the people of Buot village, most people were curious but did not dare to go against years of farming habits.

Ms. Dinh Thi Huyen – Director of the Northwest Development Cooperation Center – has committed to purchasing agricultural products for farmers. But the beginning of the journey of organic production as well as building sustainable tourism is still fraught with difficulties. The first organic Rau rice production season in Buot village, some households had a favorable harvest, some households had a poor harvest, so people did not completely trust the commitment of the Muong female director.

Only when Rau rice is purchased at a price twice as high as regular rice, can people feel secure about the chemical-free agricultural path.
As the leader of the Hoa Buoi production group, in charge of 11 households, in the early days, Ms. Theu had to go to each house to mobilize people to participate in producing Rau rice according to the project’s standards. She confided: “At first it was very difficult. We received 16 training sessions, but the people did not have production experience so the productivity was not as high as in previous seasons.

In return, input costs are very low because self-produced organic fertilizers and self-made pesticides have higher resale prices, so overall, chemical-free production is more profitable. It took a year for people to agree.”

Ms. Dinh Thi Huyen remembers: “Our people had no concept of tourism, so we had to take care of the smallest things. When traveling, the first thing is to be clean. The Icelandic project officer and I, each with a bamboo tong, carried a bucket to pick up buffalo and cow dung from all over the village. Then we instructed people to clean the outbuildings; Explain to people that they are fried eggs, but the egg dishes used in tourism services must be different from the egg dishes used in the family…”.

“When the first tourists came to the village, people did not see the effectiveness of organic production yet, so they were discouraged and wanted to give up. We encourage again, it is very difficult for everyone to attract customers to their villages and relatives, but not trying will be a waste of everyone’s efforts. So everyone gathered their spirits to move on” – Ms. Theu shared.

Làm du lịch cộng đồng, phụ nữ đã dám “lên tiếng”

Tourists wrap cakes with women in Buot village – PHOTO: U.N.
The wife dared to speak up, the husband shared the work

It took a year to get used to chemical-free farming and then got caught up in the pandemic, so by 2021, the tourism activities of Buot villagers can really operate. Fortunately, the people’s agricultural products, even during the epidemic season, are still consumed by the Northwest Development Cooperation Center and TABA enterprise, so the lives of people in Buot village are more stable than other villages.

Buot village has formed 4 production groups including Hoa Buoi group, Green Tea group, Dong Xanh group and Suoi Ca group. After years of completely chemical-free production, many types of insects have now revived. “Shrimp is a species that cannot live in polluted water, but in the past 2 years, shrimp have returned, living and growing in flocks outside the ditches. Harvesting rice, harvesting vegetables, catching shrimp and fish have become one of the tourism products of Buot village. Having a source of clean food to supplement meals and serve tourism, people are very happy” – Ms. Dinh Thi Huyen was excited.

Ms. Vi Thi Theu is both the leader of the Hoa Buoi group, participating in the kitchen team, and in the performance team. Mr. Ha Van Khiem – her husband – is on the rowing team. Some other members of the village join the group to guide tourists… Every production group grows rice and green vegetables, no matter how much they produce, the Northwest Development Cooperation Center, TABA businesses and tourists consume absorb it all there.

Ms. Theu shared: “Before working in tourism and organic production, I sold groceries, farmed, and sold online, but I didn’t have access to the fields like now. There are not always many tourists, but organic products always bring high economic value to the family.” However, the greatest value that Ms. Theu received was that the voices between husband and wife in the family were balanced. She shared very truthfully: “In the past, no matter what my husband said, I didn’t “dare” to say it back. But since I had income from participating in kitchen groups and art groups, and was able to leave the commune and district to meet many people, I began to share with my husband. Our sisters even “dared” to say: “Today we will work in the kitchen to serve guests, and at night we will perform entertainment. If you are not busy, then do the housework for me.” Women can go out and have economic independence, so we women really have a voice in the family.”

Làm du lịch cộng đồng, phụ nữ đã dám “lên tiếng”

The men of Buot village support women in the kitchen to serve tourists – PHOTO: U.N.

Ms. Ha Thi Duyen – a member of the kitchen team and also a member of the Green Tea team – boasted that every day there are tourists, each kitchen woman is paid from 200,000-250,000 VND. She affirmed that it was the transformation of agricultural methods that helped women in Buot village achieve gender equality more than any propaganda. “In the past, when using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, most husbands were the ones who bought the medicine and fertilizer for their wives to fertilize and spray. Women have to shoulder the burden of housework, family care and almost all the heavy work in the fields. But when they switched to using pesticides from garlic and chili, the husbands took on the task of “producing” pesticides. When using organic fertilizer, both husband and wife look for buffalo and cow manure, bring straw and leaves to compost the product. Husbands do not feel secure letting their wives do all the work, so the couple shares and discusses work in the fields” – Ms. Duyen explained.


From the success of Buot village, with funding from the International Francophone Organization, the Northwest Development Cooperation Center began implementing organic farming in Phu Mau village. Currently, training activities on organic agriculture have been deployed to 31 member households. It is expected that green tea and organic red peanuts will be two typical products of Phu Mau village. Two businesses have committed to purchasing products for people.


According to: Ngoc Minh Tam / PNO

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About Us

Van Ho Agritage – Agriculture Heritage Tourism
Bản Bướt, Xã Chiềng Yên, huyện Vân Hồ, tỉnh Sơn La


Văn phòng đại diện: Tòa 17T7, Hoàng Đạo Thúy, Trung Hòa, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội