Management and agricultural land uses of thai people in the west of Nghe An province, Vietnam

Abstract. This paper presents the finding the characteristics of management and agricultural land uses of Thai people in agricultural production. The impact of these characteristics on sustainable development was analysised by the strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats in order to storage and promote these values in the sustainable agriculture development on sloping land in the west of Nghe An province, Vietnam. This study used Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method to collect primary materials through interviews 210 households and stakeholders at area study by main semi-structured interviewing (SSI) and Venn diagram and SWOT tools to analysis. The research revealed that Thai acquired a lot of experience in farming on sloping that play an important role in sustainable agricultural development, such as the land management, cultivation on upland (classify the field, technique of cultivation on upland, fertilizer, land “retirement”, domesticating native plants, etc.). Beside the strengths, these traditional cultivation is facing many obstacles, in which, knowledge loss gradually, even in danger of disappearing in this area is the biggest threat. Otherwise, base on the opportunities, some solutions was suggested to store, apply and manage the indigenous knowledge (IK) for sustainable agricultural in the west Nghe An province.

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126 HNUE JOURNAL OF SCIENCE DOI: 10.18173/2354-1067.2018-0057 Social Sciences, 2018, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp. 126-136 This paper is available online at MANAGEMENT AND AGRICULTURAL LAND USES OF THAI PEOPLE IN THE WEST OF NGHE AN PROVINCE, VIETNAM Tran Thi Tuyen, Hoang Phan Hai Yen and Nguyen Thi Trang Thanh Department of Geography - Resource Management, Vinh University Abstract. This paper presents the finding the characteristics of management and agricultural land uses of Thai people in agricultural production. The impact of these characteristics on sustainable development was analysised by the strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats in order to storage and promote these values in the sustainable agriculture development on sloping land in the west of Nghe An province, Vietnam. This study used Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method to collect primary materials through interviews 210 households and stakeholders at area study by main semi-structured interviewing (SSI) and Venn diagram and SWOT tools to analysis. The research revealed that Thai acquired a lot of experience in farming on sloping that play an important role in sustainable agricultural development, such as the land management, cultivation on upland (classify the field, technique of cultivation on upland, fertilizer, land “retirement”, domesticating native plants, etc.). Beside the strengths, these traditional cultivation is facing many obstacles, in which, knowledge loss gradually, even in danger of disappearing in this area is the biggest threat. Otherwise, base on the opportunities, some solutions was suggested to store, apply and manage the indigenous knowledge (IK) for sustainable agricultural in the west Nghe An province. Keywords: Land uses, Thai ethnic people, West of Nghe An province, upland agriculture. 1. Introduction Indigenous knowledge (IK) is socio-economically viable and effective, involves minimum risk to rural farmers, and is an important asset for their livelihood and for conserving natural resources (Edda Tandi Lwoga, Patrick Ngulube, Christine Stilwell, 2010)[3]. According to Warren (1991), IK is “the local knowledge – knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. IK contrasts with the international knowledge system generated by universities, research institutions and private firms. It is the basis for local-level decision making in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural-resource management and a host of other activities in rural communities” [7]. This is because IK covers the whole range of human experience such as being able to integrate with physical sciences such as agriculture, medicine, climatology, engineering and irrigation or with social sciences such as politics, economics, military studies and sociology, or areas of humanities such as communications, arts and crafts, etc (Williams and Muchena,1991) [8]. In the last decades, with the failure of development theories, scientists have focused in most of the social. Development theorists have begun using IK as an influential tool to enhance the process of sustainability. According to Agrawal (1995) [1], IK is an important tool which holds promise for agriculture, food security and sustainable development. Received January 5, 2018. Accepted July 20, 2018. Contact Tran Thi Tuyen, e-mail address: ttt.dhv@gmail.com/ tuyentt@vinhuni.edu.vn Management and agricultural land uses of Thai people in the west of Nghe An province, Vietnam 127 IK is capable of working with different trends in the social sciences terms of the thinking and development of administrative practices and sustainability. In addition, IK is reckoned to be an important natural resource that is able to facilitate the development process in terms of cost- effective and sustainable ways. It is able to provide alternative development approaches (Agrawal, 1995; World Bank, 1997)[1]. Edda Tandi Lwoga, Patrick Ngulube, Christine Stilwell conducted research in developing countries, emphasizing the management and preservation of indigenous knowledge (Managing indigenous knowledge for sustainable agricultural development in developing countries: Knowledge management approaches in the social context)[3]. The results of the study show that farmers hold a considerable amount of knowledge about the surrounding resources and agro-forestry production techniques. In Vietnam, for instance, there are around 54 different ethnic groups. These groups have lived for many years by practicing their own traditional knowledge with regard to agriculture and protecting biodiversity such as in the forests. Moreover, this knowledge has led to the creation of a strong relationship between the local culture and natural resources, or biodiversity in particular, and has helped to manage and protect biodiversity in this area (Trung et al., 2007)[6]. In Nghe An province, which is located in middle of Viet Nam nation, the agricultural sector is the backbone of economie. This study was conducted in Western Nghe An, where has more than 80 percent of Thai ethnic live, agricultural production rely on traditional agriculture, small land holdings on the steep terrain. About history of Thai residence in western Nghe An, some people say that the Nghe An mountainous region has been of Thai homeland for a long time, based on the remains of the ape in Tham Om cave (Quy Chau district), Hoong Con cave, Phieng Pu (Quy Hop district) which is about 200,000 years old. Perhaps these are the first people to come to this mountainous region, laying the foundations for natural regeneration, building villages that in the poem "Lai Lương Mương" (Muong foundation) of Thai people. Others believe that the presence of Thai people in Quy Chau is the result of massive migration. Same as conclusion of Mella, Kulindwa, Shechambo, & Mesaki, (2007), most farmers Figure 1. The map of study area (designed by researchers) Tran Thi Tuyen, Hoang Phan Hai Yen and Nguyen Thi Trang Thanh 128 in developing countries practice low-input agriculture (approximately 80% of the agriculture) (something that shows the potential of IK for sustainable agricultural practices. Statistics show that at least 50% of the world’s population depends on IK for crops and food supplies (Hart & Vorster, 2006)[4]. The traditional farming systems were sustainable only under low-input-low- output regimes. The introduction of mechanization, fertilizers and phytomedicine sturned some of these systems into high-inputehigh-output systems, most of which were either not sustainable or did not produce the high outputs that were expected. However, the modernization of agriculture has also reduced the genetic variability of crops and livestock. According to Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), it is estimated by the that 30% of animal genetic resources are at high risk of loss due to neglecting IK. On the other hand, in developing countries, indigenous farming has received little agricultural research attention. Thus, there is a need to continuously recognize identify, validate, preserve, and disseminate indigenous skills and practices for improved agricultural activities. Thus, the following research objectives are: to study the current status of agricultural IK in this local communities; and to determine the role of agricultural IK in the sustanable agriculture development on sloping land. 2. Content 2.1. Material and methods 2.1.1. Materials Base maps of the study area were provided by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Nghe An province. The data used in the study were mainly the results of community surveys using PRA tools, SSI techniques conducted by the research team. 2.1.2. Field survey method Direct observation methodologies are also used to collect additional data, redefine information obtained from other methods (interviews) and to increase the results of indigenous knowledge documentation. The main contents of this method are: 1) Observation of what people do, how to use, what use? 2) Write down what has been observed, as detailed as possible 3) At the end of each day, review what has been recorded to see if there are any observations that need clarification or need to be supplemented and 4) Analyze what has been recorded. In addition, record some typical images during the observation. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method is used to collect primary materials. The primary data for the topic was collected by direct interview using questionnaires from commune people and commune officials in participatory rural appraisal. This method helps to collect primary data through consultation, interviews with different stakeholders at provincial, district, commune, village and selected households. The sample selection was conducted from the top down, from the districts to the communes with the highest percentage of Thais, from which villages and households were selected to interview. As the result, there are seven villages were selected. Each commune represents a different condition for resource use and socio-economic development in the area. Hua Muong, Mut, Na Sai, Cham Put villages belong to Hanh Dich commune, located deeply in the core area of the Pu Hoat nature reserve, Thai people are less likely to interact with outside, so local knowledge is still well preserved in the community. Na Tien village belong to Tien Phong commune, located near the district center, so Thai people has soon integrates and exchanges with Kinh people, the socio-economic conditions are rather developed, in addition to forest, they are also known to trade in forest products. Muong Phu, Muong Phiet belong to Thong Thu commune, Management and agricultural land uses of Thai people in the west of Nghe An province, Vietnam 129 located along the border line that connecting Lao Democratic Republic. Naturally, this area has good conditions for agro-forestry production. The valley is quite wide with the people growing wet rice, hills growing food crops, forest trees. In each village, 30 individuals were interviewed, and the total number of interviewers was 210 people. The gender and age structure in each group of respondents are as follows: The gender was divided into 15 men and 15 women; the age was divided into three group: 18-30 years old, 30-60 years old and over 60 years old, each group colected 10 people. Based on that criterion, individuals interviewed were selected at random. The division by gender and age group helps this study to assess indigenous knowledge by gender and age group. The selection of individuals for informal and semi-structured interviews is not limited to numbers and focuses on older people in the community because the “special information”, only the "special people" know. Community members participated in the identification, statistics, description and classification of indigenous knowledge types as well as appreciation the importance of indigenous knowledge in agricultural and forestry production. This study used a mixed techniques SSI and structured interview method (question list) in order to mobilize the participation of the community in providing information. In the SSI techniques, questions are not limited to questionnaire forms, but are always generated during the inquiry process. This helped the survey team get maximum information from people. The interview questionnaire was developed based on the objective of the thesis was commented by community experts in Pu Hoat Nature Reserve, Hanh Dich Commune, Thong Thu Commune, then tested and revised in advance. 2.1.3. Analytical data methods The report uses a descriptive statistical method to analyze the level of access and policy beneficiaries of the population. The results of field surveys will be collected, aggregated and described by indigenous knowledge groups: Cultivation on sloping land, land management; the use of forest products: vegetables; ruler; food crops, food trees, trees, etc. The techniques are used to analytical the data, such as: Venn diagram and SWOT analysis. Venn diagram to determine the role of IK in sustainale agricultural development. SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges of IK. 2.2. Results 2.2.1. Land management According to traditional customary law, Thais consider forest resources to be the property under common ownership of the whole village. These are big assets and everyone has the right to enjoy. The distribution of the property must be discussed by the families in the village under the general manager of the village. Boundary lines are often based on rivers, streams, and trails. The landmarks are large boulders, waterfalls and even ancient trees. These boundaries are handed down to the next generation as an inviolable convention. Each Thai family has its own land, including land, swidden fields, forests (forbidden forests, sacred forests), water sources, rivers, streams, valleys, etc. The area of forest product exploitation, slash-and-burn agriculture is clearly divided among households. The most remarkable thing in land forest management is the effective management of community forests, in which village communities have the highest responsibility in protecting their forest areas. There are 54% of the villages in the study area owned community forests which have twice the forest cover as compared to state-managed forests. In term of forest exploitation, Thai people have good experiences that are associated with the conservation and development of species, made forests well protected. 2.2.2. Cultivation on upland Thai people know how to classify the field for proper use. According to their terrain characteristics, there are sloping fields, flat fields; according to cultivars, there are rice fields, Tran Thi Tuyen, Hoang Phan Hai Yen and Nguyen Thi Trang Thanh 130 maize fields, cassava fields, and indigo fields; in term of using cultivation techniques, there are hoe, plow, knives, axes, according to the time of land use, there are one-crop fields, two-crop fields; according to the forest status (old forest and regenerated forest). Thus, the understanding of the steep terrain and the way to cultivate are diverse, so that they can produce in different conditions. In addition, they are good at crop rotation. Intercropping techniques on upland fields are well used. Among plants of a different kind with main crops are rice and other auxiliary crops such as maize, sweet potato and cassava, vegetables: vegetables, peanut, etc. This way is not only increased income but also created the cover crops that prevents soil erosion and nutritional supplement for soil. Some people are using shifting cultivation and mixed cropping during the farming process. This has led to a reduction in the productiveness of farming land and has destroyed biodiversity. Another method which indigenous people are using during the farming process is fallowing and the slash and burn of land after each farming cycle. All of these activities by local people have a negative impact on the survival of wildlife, and even where they exist. For this reason, agriculture extension workers have encouraged local farmers not to use such practices as part of the agricultural process. In terms of technique of cultivation on upland, the upland agricultural feature of the Thai people is the technique of cultivation on the sloping land. Farmer do not use the plow, they use the sharp bamboo to poke the holes, remove seeds in to the holes. This crop needs no fertilizers and these pockets have enough soil to grow. Also, this method of cultivation has been restricting the washing off soil nutrients, moreover, it has not broken the soil structure. Otherwise, local seeds are used for long time that are specific to the weather conditions of the region, so the ability to adapt and grow better, the ability to fight against the higher pests and then bring more efficiency. In addition, it is a layer of humus and ash that replenishes the fertility of the soil instead of using chemical fertilizers. However, this method of cultivation has decreasingly being used. The survey results show that only 56.7% of people use this method in rice and maize production, concentrated in remote areas of the study area (Hua Muong, Mut, Na Sai, Cham Put villages). The survey results show that only 56.7% of households use this method for rice and maize production, concentrated in remote areas of the study area (picture 1). The remaining households have switched to using hoe, even some plowing, as in the plains (picture 2). This technique raises the risk of erosion, runoff and rainy season and destroys the soil structure. The result findings also showed that when harvesting, famers retain the top of the mountain and see it as "the hats of the upland", watershed forests and large woods are "sacred forests" and "ghost forests". This is good way not only to protect soil on the slopping land but also the forest. When harvested, the vegetation is left on the upland fields to enrich the organic matters and supplement natural nitrogen and increase soil fertility. It can be seen that IK has some advantages a b Picture 1. Technique of cultivation on the sloping land in Cham Put village (a) and Na Tien village (b) (Source: researchers) Management and agricultural land uses of Thai people in the west of Nghe An province, Vietnam 131 over modern knowledge for replacing chemical fertilizer. Scientists believe that IK has a particular principle that allows continuous cropping through whole the year without the need to use chemicals or fertilizers which degrade the environment and particularly the soil. Furthermore, this work often appears as a reason for replenishing the soil. When harvesting, the vegetation is left on the swidden field, creating a protective surface to against erosion. Furthermore, local people have given land "retirement" based on the law of slash and burn farming. According to farmer's experience, black or dark brown lobes were chosen for sticky rice because it was a good soil (in fact, many of them were mulch), after cultivating some crops they switched to cassava. Previously, due to the large area of forest, cultivated fields of rice, maize and cassava were also shifting cultivation. There are two types of shifting cultivation here: shifting cultivation and shifting cultivation. The past cultivation cycle lasts from 6 to 8 years, then 3 to 4 years. This is the period time required to restore soil fertility. The method of cultivation is as simple as that of the Kho Mu, Hmong and Tay Poong groups in the north-west of Nghe An: burning, piercing, hoe (cultivating the "forest"). However, the Thai people have experienced the wise use of forest ecosystems and tropical forest land. Families choose good lobes, they cut, burn and clean before sowing seeds "cut - burn - poke - drill". The way to sow the seeds is to poke the hole with a stick, less disturbing the soil texture and limiting soil erosion. On the other hand, local people have a wealth of knowledge in discovering and domesticating native plants. Thai people have a deep understanding of the species, distribution and use of tree and non-timber trees. In this study area, there are more than 158 native species have been discovered and used by people in daily life that are classified into different types and groups of forest products such as: medicinal plants (83 species, 52,33%), vegetables (27 species, 17,08%), knitting/for yarn (15 species, 9,49%), fruit trees, weaving plants, poisonous trees, needle-wine trees, wood
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