In the Northwest of the country, there is a land located in the heart of high mountains and old forests, this place is chosen by the Thai and Muong ethnic minorities as a long-term settlement, called Buot village. The name Buot is the sound of Wet because the whole village is surrounded by a clear stream flowing from the upstream forest. Water is the most important source of life for the Northwest Thai people – the typical inhabitants of the valley culture. Therefore, for many years now, the inhabitants of Buot village have included in the community’s convention the protection of water sources and natural fish stock in the village.
Van Ho Agritage is the English name of heritage farming village model committed by Agritage Vietnam, the administration of Van Ho district and the people of Buot village to preserve and develop. Agritage stands for two words: Agriculture and Heritage. The heritage farming village is located in Van Ho district, in order to retain the indigenous knowledge in agricultural cultivation, the eating and cultural features of the Thai and Muong people, the inhabitants of the valley culture are living in Van Ho district, Son La province. It is great to start the story, we have received financial companionship and support and operational technical advice from the Australian Ambassador to Vietnam in the framework of the project: “Promoting equality world through improving the economic efficiency of agricultural production and tourism – GREAT”.
At Van Ho Agritage, we are practicing 5 important criteria constituting the concept of a Heritage Agricultural Village from the point of view of Agritage Vietnam, which are :
(i) Sustainable livelihoods and food security. Currently, Van Ho Agritage is cultivating Te Rauspecialty rice, upland sticky rice, indigenous grains such as red peanuts, black beans with green yolk and other crops to serve the village’s consumption needs and sell agricultural products for livelihoods plans and income. We established Dong Rung Van Ho Cooperative and developed the brand name of Dong Rung Agricultural Products with two typical product lines, Dong Rung Te Rau Rice and Dong Rung Indigenous Seeds.The villagers have both used the ancient knowledge of the Thai and Muong people in how to carry water from the stream to the fields for irrigation through a system of ditches and bamboo pipes, while also using native plants that grow naturally around them such as neem, soapberry, chili, garlic, and ginger to create bio-pesticide and commit to farming according to organic standards PGS – Participatory Guarantee System. Van Ho Agritage is the first member of PGS Van Ho, a participatory monitoring system committed to organic farming with the Vietnam Organic Agriculture Association, PGS Vietnam;
(ii) Biodiversity in agriculture. We try to diversify the species of animals, plants and microorganisms in the activities of farming, aquaculture, and forest product exploitation in the village. By maintaining natural farming activities such as using homemade micro-fertilizers, growing plants and grasses in a symbiotic way, and eliminating pests and diseases according to the principles of natural disasters, etc., it has helped farmers in the villages. Heritage agriculture responds to drought, erosion, and landslides and enriches soil microorganisms. The model of ecological forest garden is being applied to farming lands with high slope and frequent landslides and soil degradation. Indigenous genetic resources or precious genetic resources from other regions are collected, stored and propagated in the village to serve farming activities of the community or to share with other regions.
(iii) The system of indigenous knowledge in agricultural cultivation is restored and preserved. Van Ho heritage agricultural village is the main living place of Thai and Muong people with typical valley culture. We have a long experience in using water power and controlling water sources for agricultural cultivation. Agritage Vietnam and the community have come together to restore and use water pipes and ditches for agricultural farming. Water is also used by people as a natural source of electricity for the village
(iv) Cultural value system and community organization. In the Heritage Agriculture village, the community’s cultural elements are kept together by the people. We develop community-based tourism so that people can both have jobs, generate income, and be proud of their roots. Respect existing community structures and maximum community autonomy by establishing Community Cooperatives with the participation of villagers. The community cooperative will be an organization representing the interests of the villagers, cooperating with different partners to create development opportunities for the residents of the Heritage Farm Village.
(v) Typical landscape system. A true Heritage Agriculture village is also a place to preserve landscape systems with characteristics of community culture. Van Ho Heritage Agricultural Village is the place where Thai residents live with a typical valley culture. We live in harmony with streams and forests. Therefore, for many generations, the villagers still together preserve natural fish streams and old forests. Coming to Van Ho Heritage Agricultural Village, the most typical landscape system is springs and old forests. The vegetation layers are typical of the Northwest tropical forest; Cave systems are formed and accumulated over many years of erosion by the flow of water and the operation of the earth. In particular, the natural fish stream that the villagers included in the protection convention still exists as a proof of the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature of the inhabitants of the Bot village.
Van Ho Heritage Agricultural Village – Van Ho Agritage wishes to be a small stream, small forest, small community contributing to preserving and showing love and pride for Vietnamese agricultural culture.