Nguyen Quang Dung from the National Institute of Agricultural Planning and Projection spoke with Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) about the development of traditional craft villages
How is business going for the country's traditional craft villages?
In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development assigned the National Institute of Agricultural Planning and Projection to conduct a fact-finding survey that would help devise solutions and policies for the development of traditional craft villages.
Our two-year survey reported that there were 2,000 traditional craft villages nation-wide. However, these villages were mainly located in northern provinces. The survey also showed that the average income of craft village workers was three or four times higher than average incomes for farmers.
Thanks to the higher incomes, socio-economic development at traditional villages has been brighter. The poverty rate at traditional villages is 3-4 per cent, lower than the 9-10 per cent average in rural areas.
Nevertheless, craft villages have not brought into play their full potential and in some respects failed to meet expectations due to difficulties such as backwards technology, substandard quality of products and environment pollution.
The survey found that craft production for export reached a value of nearly $1 billion in 2010, up from a figure of $6.8 million in 1991. More importantly, the survey calculated that $1 million worth of export products had providesdjobs for 3,000-4,000 labourers for a year.
How do you assess current policies for the traditional craft villages?
For a long time, the Government has issued policies to develop both rural areas and traditional villages. However, the policies show little effectiveness. For example, traditional craft villages have focused on economic profits and neglected issues such as environmental protection for a long time.
The cause of this environmental damage is that we have no regulations on discharging waste, no effective sanctions to deal with violations and no collection of environmental fees at traditional craft villages.
What are your suggestions on developing industry at traditional craft villages?
On one hand, we should maintain traditional villages because craftsman create sophisticated products. On the other hand, we have been advised to add traditional craft villages to industrial park zones in an effort to expand production scales, raise productivity and reduce environmental pollution.
However, the production process for bamboo and rattan handicraft products or embroidered products, which cause little harm to the environment, could be continued at traditional craft villages rather than in industrial parks.
What role do traditional craft villages play in labour movements and work on building new rural areas?
Urbanisation and labour movements are two current trends in the world. The first trend sees farmers increasingly becoming workers in urban areas and industrial parks during the urbanisation process; and the second involves labour movement in localities.
In our country, if we develop the non-agricultural model including traditional craft villages, farmers will not have to leave rural areas to urban centres to find jobs. When some farmers get to refocus their work in the traditional craft sector at rural villages, other farmers will also benefit by being able to expand their area of land under cultivation and benefit from economies of scale.
Localities need to early programme traditional villages to make the most of human resource.
Developing traditional villages not only helps raising income and improve living condition of farmers but also contributes into labour movement, leaving more land for develop agriculture in large scale. — VNS