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Cotu online tour has been started since this April!

From 2012, FIDR had supported the Cotu people, an ethnic minority group in Central Vietnam, to develop self-reliant tourism (community-based tourism) for 4 years by utilizing abundant local resources such as unique tradition, culture, and society and rich nature. Even after the completion of the project, Cotu people continue to operate gCotu Tourh by themselves. The tour has achieved high praise from not only tour participants in Vietnam but also from abroad and won the ASEAN Award in 2019. About 600 people participated in the tour annually, but due to the spread of the novel coronavirus infection since 2020, many tours have been cancelled from last year.

"Even when the movement of people is restricted, we still want to provide our products and services to our customers".

The idea of Cotu online tour was born from this time.To begin the online tour, Cotu people made the internet available to the village and prepared the tablets. They have also conducted many times of monitor tours to improve the way they show the contents to entertain customers online.

Cotu online tour has started from this April. There are two courses; gWeaving village courseh and gVillage life courseh. gWeaving village courseh is a course to visit a village which is famous for traditional weavings while gVillage life courseh is a course to walk around a village and experience Cotu peoplefs daily life.


Local products of Nam Giang district are available in MUJIfs flagship store in Vietnam

Nam Giangfs local products corner

Customer visited the corner

On November 27, MUJI, the renowned Japanese home and lifestyle goods company opened its first store in Vietnam at a big shopping center in Hochiminh City. About 1,200 local products including Cotu traditional handicrafts and agriculture products which were developed by ethnic minority people in Nam Giang district, Quang Nam province of Vietnam are now available in one corner of the store. The grand open of MUJIfs store and products of Nam Giang district were also introduced in local media.

Japanese companies in general are famous for their high requirements of product quality. The products need to pass many steps of inspection from production to sales and acquisition of certification. Having products which are sold at one of the big Japanese companies and met its strict quality standards is very meaningful for ethnic minority people in Nam Giang district, and gives them a lot of confident. This new market is expected to contribute to improving the income of ethnic minority people and the self-sustaining development of the rural area.


The Results and Achievement of the Project were Introduced in Local Media

gProject for Rural Development by Local Initiative of the Ethnic Minority Communities in Nam Giang Districth, a "Grassroots Technical Cooperation Project" undertaken by JICA aiming to promote the regional sustainable development utilizing the local resources completed on August 2020. On 22nd October, 2020, the online sharing workshop of the projectfs results and achievements was conducted with the cooperation of JICA Vietnam office. More than 60 participants from the Vietnam National Administration Tourism, universities, aid agencies, travel agencies, projectfs stakeholders joined this event. Many representatives of media agency also joined and published the project information in their news. Hereafter is the reporting of Vietnam News (the National English Language Daily) about the projectfs model on craft development in Quang Nam province. Please access the link below for further information.


Kill ten birds with one stone!!–Bring about significant impact from small input– Vol.3

Experiences of the project lead to the next stage

Approximately nine months have passed since the global outbreak of COVID–19. Despite the impact of the pandemic, people in Nam Giang District has been taking new actions to introduce their products and services to the customers. In the village where main income comes from tourism (Cotu ethnic tour), people have to start producing commercial agricultural products because all reservations of the tour have been cancelled due to COVID–19. As one of these attempts, they started delivery service of the traditional Cotu food. Furthermore, they came up with the idea to conduct online Cotu ethnic tour. Currently, the preparation of the online tour has been going on and will be available for sale in this coming November. (Refer our website and SNS for detailed information). The success in providing 2 tons of beans to the market during the nationwide lockdown has increased the confidence of Cotu people and motivated them for new challenges.

Cotu people have conducted some events in Da Nang to introduce Cotu cuisine and local specialties developed in the project

Maybe these foods will be in the delivery menu in the near future.

Social participation of ethnic minorities is indispensable for the stable economic growth of the country. However, it is not easy to involve ethnic minorities in social activities, and Vietnam is one of the countries that have to solve this important issue. This project has promoted the participation of local people and contributed to not only increasing the income of communities but also revitalizing the local community. Mr. Le Chi Thanh, Chairman of the People's Committee of Quang Nam Province appreciated the project's achievement and named the model established in this project as “Nam Giang Model.” In 2019, the local government requested FIDR to expand this model to nine districts of the province.

Nam Giang district has abundant natural resources. The products utilizing these resources are valuable and have the potential to attract customers. Anyone can participate in the process of developing and providing these treasures to the market. Therefore, our next challenge is to establish a distribution channel and build the network to connect people and products from the mountainous border areas of Quang Nam Province with other areas and the market.

“There were many people and stakeholders participating in this project. We tried to listen to the voices of as many people as possible and proceeded with the project while prioritizing the harmony among people and the nature in order to make everyone happily participate in the project”
(Ms. Do Thi My Hoa/ Assistant Project Manager)

“I believe that all of us have something to be proud of. I am grateful that I was able to contribute on creating a system in which everyone can participate and share their happiness”.
(Ms. Nobuko Otsuki / Country Representative)

Recently, local people have been motivated a lot, and they told us that they are ready to receive a larger amount of order. It can be seen that the project has been completed in the success of revitalizing the community by the initiatives of local people. We hope that this model in Nam Giang district will be spread to other areas in the next project, and more people can participate in the community revitalization.


Kill ten birds with one stone!!–Bring about significant impact from small input– Vol.2

Super collaboration in bringing products to markets under COVID–19

The spread of COVID–19 occurred unexpectedly from this spring and it has obviously affected our project site. However, in this situation, it was revealed that people in the project sites are strongly banded and the logistics system fostered in the project properly functions even in case of emergency.

Every spring, many students and tourists have visited Nam Giang district to join “Cotu ethnic Tour”– a full–day sightseeing tour to experience the lifestyle and abundant nature of Cotu ethnic minority people. However, due to the effects of COVID–19, all reservations have been cancelled this year. Earning from the tour has accounted for most of the revenue of Nam Giang– Cotu Community–Based Tourism Cooperative, which is the organization taking responsibility for running the tour and receiving orders of local products in Nam Giang district. It was unavoidable that the revenue of the Cooperative has decreased and so as the income of local people in this severe situation.

In late March, when Vietnam was under nationwide lockdown, FIDR staffs received a phone call from the Cooperative. “Really? Did you receive an order of 2 tons of beans?!”

Before the lockdown due to COVID–19, people tried to hoard food. Under the circumstances, the agricultural products shop in Da Nang which started the business with the Cooperative received orders not only from Da Nang city but also from several shops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, resulting in an unprecedented amount of orders.

Upon receiving this order, with the support from FIDR staffs, the Cooperative and community connectors, who are responsible for coordination among villagers, immediately made contact with people in different villages to collect the beans. The villagers removed foreign objects, selected and polished the beans as they usually practiced in the training sessions of the project. After that, the community connectors rented a car to pick up packages of bean from each village and delivered them to Da Nang city. Because of the super collaborative play, the products have been delivered by the delivery date.

“A local supply chain” in the mountainous area which enabled the delivery of 2 tons of beans

The keys for this success were “the close cooperation between the Cooperative and community connectors”, and “an invisible supply–chain system” stretching like a spider web from a small village in the hinterland of Nam Giang district which has been developed through this project. From the beginning of the project, FIDR has conducted trainings to local people on the way of producing and selling not only agricultural products but other local specialties such as traditional weaving, forest products, basket products, and sightseeing tours. Through the training, local people can handle with large quantity of products, from 50kg to 100kg, 300kg, and involving more people in the process. These efforts of the people were showed off in the final year of the project.

Beans are displayed in retail shops.

Ms. Otsuki, Country Representative of FIDR Vietnam office, who has also been manager of this project said: “Seeing the performance of local people, I strongly felt that it was time for them to be independent without support of FIDR during more than 15 years. Through this project, I have learned that by discovering and utilizing the strengths of local people and connecting them into a team, they can create a remarkable success. So we can achieve not only “two birds with one stone” but “ten birds with one stone”. During this few months, the Cooperative has been receiving orders of not only beans, but also of other agricultural products constantly. As a result, the sales amount in first half of 2020 has already exceeded the total sales amount of the previous year.


Kill ten birds with one stone!!–Bring about significant impact from small input– Vol.1

The project in Nam Giang District which has been implemented since 2016 aiming at increasing the income of ethnic minorities and revitalizing the region by utilizing local resources, completed in August 2020. Only a few FIDR staff members were involved in this project. However, about 4,900 households joined this project and more than 230 products were newly developed. What are the tips to bring about significant impact under limited human resources? What happened in the project site? We will look back on our project to answer these questions in three consecutive series.

The keyword is “Change local resources into treasures for customers”

FIDR implemented the project based on the following two principles.
① Allow everyone to participate in the project activities
② Establish the system to find a suitable market for each product

In this project, the "treasure hunting" method was adapted to find local resources that can be utilized as local specialties. During the project period, not only “Cotu ethnic tour” and “Cotu traditional handicraft” which had been developed as products in the previous project, various local “treasures” such as beans, rice, spices, baskets, etc have become commercialized.
Anyone can participate in the process of product development from the discovery of potential resource to its commercialization. People in the project site are very creative, therefore, by utilizing their creativities, they can add value to the "treasures" and change their treasures into commercial products. At the end of the project period, 4,900 households which are more than 90% of households in the project site, have been involved in the project activities and had the commercialized products.

In the process of commercialization, products are classified into five groups based on the development level. The potential markets are also classified into five categories from local market to international market, so that people can focus their products with the suitable market. During the project period, the residents have repeated the process of product development as in figure below. In this process, they have been improving their products and also developing new products based on the feedback from the customers and retailers.

By adopting this market-oriented approach – “Change local resources into treasures for customers”, the products made from local resources have been highly appreciated by the costumers and they have gained regular customers as “fan community”.

Products are thoroughly inspected before selling in the market.

Agriculture products are processed by villagers.


Emergency Support in Response to Spread of New Coronavirus — New challenge of people during the pandemic

The new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which started from China is spreading rapidly all over the world. Vietnam, one of our targeting countries, has also been affected by coronavirus. Since it first appeared in January, the government had taken decisive measures such as immigration restrictions, school closures, isolation of people infected or suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus, etc. Due to that, our activities were suspended for about 3 months, from February to the beginning of May. In our project sites, virus tests and medical treatment systems do not function properly. Furthermore, the lack of hygiene items which are essential for prevention of coronavirus is a big issue as in other provinces of the country. Received the support request from the local government, in mid-March, FIDR conducted the delivery of 500 five-liter bottles of alcohol disinfectant, approximately 15,000 pieces of soap, 50,000 pairs of vinyl gloves and more to 56 health centers, 6 district hospitals, 8 Centers for Infectious Diseases in 6 mountainous districts of Kon Tum Province and Quang Nam Province.

FIDR staffs (in front of FIDR office — Da Nang city) confirmed relief supplies before delivering to two provinces.

Distribution of relief supplies with the cooperation of staffs and Department of Health (Tay Giang District, Quang Nam Province).

Despite the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, people participating in the project still make efforts to improve their life. Hereafter is a story of Basket Knitting Group, one Community Initiative Group (CIG) established in the project activities. The group has been making “Welcome Gift set” including plastic bottle holders and other gifts for tourists visiting Cotu villages. However, in these few months, all the sightseeing tours have been cancelled due to the spread of new coronavirus. FIDR staffs worried that their income would be reduced, but they told us that:

“Recently, plastic bottle holders and various types of baskets have been available for sale in our village and nearby villages. I found new market in a surprising place that I haven't imagined before.” “Through this project, I learned how to sell the products. While participating in the trainings and meetings, I was able to get acquainted with a lot of people in nearby villages, where I had not been visited before. They introduced my products to the market, so even there are no tourists now, I still receive income by selling these products”.

It can be seen as one of the project's impacts on local people that they have become more active and flexible in product development and marketing in their own way, even in this current difficult situation.

Men of Basket Knitting Group showed their proud plastic bottle holders


gThink like a Consumerh Special Products Utilizing Characteristics of the Villages

(Photo)Developed five types of frikake seasonings. These are made from black sesame seeds, dried fish, wild pepper, and others spices.

Rusk, frikake seasoning , herbs for footbath, banana chips, etc.

People in the villages of Nam Giang district, Quang Nam province in central Vietnam, are developing products with the idea of not only how to utilize local resources, but also what their potential consumers expect.

One of the products developed based on the idea is frikake seasoning, a dry Japanese seasoning made with black sesame seeds. It is a good accompaniment for rice, and sesame seeds frikake is popular in Japan. Compared to Japanese ones, the seeds in this area are much smaller, but have a deep aroma. Some villages in the district have grown the seeds for a long time and sold at a low price to residents in lowland.
Recently, the number of double-income families is increasing in the cities and they bring a lunch box for lunch rather than buying street food or having lunch at home. Having considered these busy people and tourists seeking unique souvenirs, people in Nam Giang district came up with the idea that there would be a business chance with frikake seasoning. In test sale in Hanoi, not only Vietnamese, but also western people purchased the product for fun.

Next example is Rask. This product was chosen because foreigners were accustomed to eating it. The package is also designed with the aim that foreign tourists would choose the product as fashionable souvenirs. Toppings are sesame seeds, wild pepper, raw honey, etc.

Including prototypes, more than 100 products are developed so far. In addition to selling to tourists visiting Nam Giang district, they opened a store at the Quang Nam Province Ethnic Festival introducing ethnic minority culture regularly held in Hoi An. Products are also sold at souvenir shops in Da Nang city now. The FIDR staff is involved in designing the package and collaboratively working on product development with village people.


Popular New Event in Hoi An

Popular New Event in Hoi An

A new event gEthnic Nighth has been held every month since last February in Hoi An. Minority ethnic groups in central Vietnam perform ethnic dance and sell local specialties to visitors.

This event was developed from gCo Tu Nighth, which was a trial conducted by Quang Nam Province,@Hoi An city, resort hotels in the city and FIDR. Some 10 ethnic groups in central Vietnam, including Co Tu, take turns joining the event. FIDR is highly rated for the accomplishment and reliance in the local area, which is why we are in charge of contacting with each local governments and local ethnic groups and organizing the event itself.

Popular New Event in Hoi An

Bhnonh, a minority ethnic group in Phuoc Son District, Quang Nam Province, delivered a performance in April. Though this was the first time for them to meet large number of tourists in Hoi An, all of them performed their tradition and culture confidently and attracted tourists.

Popular New Event in Hoi An

Event Schedule