|Bungalows on the Cu De riverbank host families and groups of friends in Da Nang. The site also offers ‘world learning’ for college students in central Vietnam. VNS Photo Tran Le Lam
The village of 2,000 is home to nature, traditional culture, ‘green’ living and a ‘world learning education programme’ – an approach to outdoor activities and practical lessons for college students.
The field education programme, initiated by the University of Science and Education under Da Nang University in 2014, has provided courses for thousands of students from colleges and universities in the city to help them explore natural heritage, from rural mountainous to coastal areas in central Vietnam, as well as offshore islands.
“It’s an exciting practical education course. Students enjoy free outdoor space rather than sitting in classrooms,” said Dr Chu Manh Trinh, a nature conservationist.
“Students can experience things they could only see on screen at college. Young students learn and practise skills from farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and gardeners, who act as field lecturers.”
Trinh, who guided the ‘world learning course’ for students in central Vietnam, explained the course was seen as a knowledge and skills exchange between farmers and students.
“Farmers often rely on their traditional, ancestor-inherited skills and practices, but they have not yet applied scientific innovation in boosting crop yields. The course will fill in this deficiency of knowledge for farmers.”
|Students of Da Nang University during a ‘world learning programme’ in Nam Yen Village of Hoa Bac Commune in Da Nang. The programme has helped students gain valuable knowledge. VNS Photo Cong Thanh
Do Thi Huyen Tram, 37, a villager in Nam Yen, has set up a homestay service and become a ‘world learning course’ destination and a cross-culture rendezvous for the Co Tu ethnic villages.
“I built a home to host groups of 20 students from the ‘world learning programme’. The home also helps link the ethnic Co Tu community in Ta Lang and Gian Bi villages – 7km from Nam Yen Village,” Tram said.
“Local farmers from the three villages have started ‘green living’ practices with waste treatment and organic farming. Villagers have gradually recognised the importance of protected water related to safe water supply in Da Nang,” she said.
Tram said local farmers had gradually reduced the use of chemical fertiliser in agriculture by boosting composting and bio-fertiliser for crops.
Tran Thi Anh, 50, makes her living from her 1,000sq.m organic fruit garden while feeding her family of four – she and her husband both have disabilities.
She said local farmers only farm using skills, but lack post-harvest technology and produce marketing.
Mai Thi Hong, 21, who is a third-year biology student at Da Nang University of Science and Education, said the course was useful due to the practical approach.
“I could understand how organic farming works. Herbs could be used as effective bio protection in the garden. We know exactly when to sow seeds and fertilise crops to get bumper harvests,” Hong said.
“We suggested solutions for sustainable farming and community-based tourism in the village after the course. Rice paddy-based practices and rural lifestyles could help villagers earn more after harvest,” she suggested.
“The rural scenery and crafts of the village will be an attraction to tourists on weekend trips.”
Nguyen Ngoc Luong, a student in the ‘world learning course’, said she learnt a lot about organic farming from gardeners.
“We were given explanations on how farmers rotate crops. Bananas and nuts provide not only leaves and fruit, but fertilise soil for other plants. Local farmers also provide pest killing experience by keeping ants in the fruit garden, while luring birds and pest eaters to build their nests in the garden,” she said.
|A new check-in site is built in the middle of a rice field in Nam Yen Village. The rural area has been developing community-based tourism and farming skills. VNS Photo Do Tram
Do Viet Vy, 58, who owns a homestay service in the village, said architecture students helped him design and decorate the house.
“They added modern features to a rural house as it is convenient for the owners and visitors,” he said.
Dr Trinh said practical experience would help students gain a real view of the consequences of climate change in rural life.
He said students could offer climate change resilient ideas for local people in terms of building houses, disaster mitigated crops and improving community capabilities.
“Lessons and experience from the course would help students build sustainable solutions for the community in organic farming, forest protection, species conservation, waste treatment and protection of water,” he said.
“Scientific studies now and later on will be a basis for building a chemical-free zone in the village and community-based tourism in the near future.
“The village and rural areas in Da Nang will be one of a series of destinations for the ‘world learning programme’ including Hoi An, Cham islands in Quang Nam Province; and Ly Son Islands, Sa Huynh and Binh Son of Quang Ngai.”
|People enjoy kayaking along the Cu De River in Hoa Bac Commune, 40km from Da Nang. The riverside is one of the most popular ‘green living’ experiences near Da Nang. Photo courtesy of Tran Thi Tuyen
Vy said the village, situated in the buffer zone of two nature reserves of Bach Ma in Thua Thien Hue and Ba Na Nui Chua of Da Nang, has a lot of potential for eco-tour services and afforestation.
Nam Yen Village has been building links with villages of An Dinh, Loc My, Ta Lang and Gian Bi, Yen Retreat in a complex of crafts, farm tours and community education tourism along the Cu De River.
|Young students from Da Nang learn how to map a heritage plan of a rural village and farming life skills from a ‘world learning’ programme. VNS Photo Cong Thanh
Tram said community-based tourism in the village needs time to turn farmers into service providers.
She said the local community received funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Global Environment Facility (GEF)’s Small Grants Programme to promote the preservation of culture and conservation of the Ba Na Nui Chua nature reserve.