New socio-economic models for rejuvenating the desolated rural village
About the Implementing organization
Name: Indigenous Hakka community of Lai Chi Wo Village
Year of establishment: 2013
Type of organization: Indigenous group or organization
A “3 Dous Land Incubation Scheme” was commenced to encourage sustainable rural development by providing assistance to indigenous villagers and new settlers. Under the Scheme, they can carry out their sustainability ideas and plans, including small farms start-up, rural education projects and green business concepts. Starting with 3 proposals in 2015, there are now 7 farms in 2017, producing and processing crops for own use or for selling. A team of villagers, settlers, leaders and volunteers is also formed with a focus on processing fresh produces into new farm products (Very Ginger – a women-led farm product label formed by the village ladies (indigenous and new comers) Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/verygingerLCW). These were sold directly to visitors and via monthly on-site Farmers’ Market.
Rural education projects have been developed by rediscovering how indigenous villagers utilize natural resources. Traditional Hakka snacks making workshop, such as turnip teacake and ramie teacake, and soil art workshop are created and provided as paid service by villagers and settlers respectively with the support from the Programme. These workshops are conducted both in the village and in urban areas to reconnect urban dwellers and nature.
Indigenous villagers and professional tour-guides cooperated to provide training to volunteers and new settlers. This interflow of knowledge equips participants with better techniques to provide high quality eco-tours.
Wetlands / Wildlife
Type of Action
Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Health
With the setting up of “3 Dous land” farms, the small scale crop production by different farm holders composed of indigenous villagers and new settlers enhances the habitat diversity. Different types of crops, such as paddy, lemon grass, peanuts, sweet potatoes, black soy beans, and kale, have created different kinds of habitats. The farm holders were graduates of the leadership training programmes. They are more equipped in implementing sustainable and low carbon farming methods and living.
The rural education projects also provide opportunities to reconnect human and nature. The projects promote the appreciation of natural resources, such as the different uses of native plants and the different colours of soil. Such projects also promote the recoverable and sustainable mode of natural resources consumption practiced by the indigenous villagers in the past.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Under the Programme, a small but tightly bonded community mix with indigenous villagers, new settlers and volunteers is formed. A new socio-economic partnership was built between indigenous villagers and new settlers who have moved to the village from urban areas. Their farming activities have rejuvenated the village and encouraged the emigrated villagers to return more frequently and stay longer. This helps rebuild their bonding with their homeland. Some villagers restored their houses to provide accommodation for new settlers as a new form of rural economy.
The eco-farming and farm products production activities have provided an opportunity to re-brand the village as the organic farm products are produced locally. People get to know the farmers’ stories through farm tours and media reports.
Public ferry service which bring urban dwellers to the village started in 2016. The need for the service to support the sustainable development of the village by ecotourism was being recognized.
Nearby Lai Chi Wo Village, there are 6 other villages connected by hiking routes. These villages and Lai Chi Wo Village are closely bonded as they are the members of a rural alliance, Hing Chun Yeuk. The Programme has attracted the attention of village representatives and villagers from these nearby villages. Village representative from Mui Tsz Lam Village showed interests in the village revitalization approach undergoing in Lai Chi Wo. All these opportunities have been paving the road to expand the idea of sustainable rural development into a wider region and to other villages with similar setting in Hong Kong.
The Programme has drawn interests and recruited individuals and groups sharing similar visions to participate and co-organize different activities. Some of them are active members of groups in Hong Kong that support local agriculture and production, whereas some are from Mainland China. We believe that the training and interflow among Programme participants allow the socio-economic models to be replicated or developed into innovative models which can be widely applied elsewhere.
Besides the community level, Lai Chi Wo and its community efforts are mentioned in Hong Kong’s Policy Address 2017 by the Government. In order to promote revitalization of remote rural areas, the Government will start a preparatory committee to study the range and limits and also the models of a conservation fund. The Heung Yee Kuk, which represents rural interests, also showed support in promoting ecotourism in rural villages.
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