What do rural youth want? Ma Van Hieu

In honour of International Youth Day, held annually on 12 August, IFAD is featuring seven rural youth from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face, and to discover what they need in order to improve their lives and feed the world.

Name: Ma Van Hieu
Age: 27
Location: Yeng Thuong, Viet nam

In this interview, Chloé Desjonquères, a development studies student from France speaks with Ma Van Hieu, 27, a tea farmer from Viet nam. Van Hieu live in Yen Thuong, a small, remote village near the centre of the country and is married with two children. He was recently chosen by a local project implementer as a successful role model in his community.

Below is their conversation -

Q: Can you describe what you do to earn a living?
“I am a tea farmer.”

Q: How did you get into this type of work?
“In my village, people traditionally work as tea farmers. My parents worked with tea, so I followed in their footsteps.”

Q: What are some of the main challenges you face living in a rural community?
“Some of the challenges we face as tea farmers are climate change and the droughts, especially during the last two years. Droughts reduce tea yields and lower our income.”

Q: How did you overcome these challenges?
“ To overcome these challenges, my family decided to start producing livestock, and I sometimes work as hired labor. My wife takes care of the livestock production, and I work as a construction worker.”

Q: What support did you receive?
“We got a lot of support from the IFAD supported Agriculture, Farmers and Rural Areas Support Project (TNSP). TNSP provides us with input (fertilizers and pesticides) for the tea plantation. We also receive training for tea cultivation, and sometimes we go to the livestock production training.”

Q: What issues concern you the most as a young person?
“As a young person, I am very concerned about climate change, because of its negative impact on yields. And it is very difficult for young people to earn a living in rural areas because, traditionally, we have to follow our family’s line of work and we cannot do anything else. It is important to focus on that work and to dedicate ourselves to our family tradition.”

Q: What do you think are the biggest opportunities for young people?
“In the village the Youth Union is a great opportunity because by earning more money we can contribute to the common fund, and help younger generations with their farming.”

Q: What do you think governments and development agencies can do to support rural youth in your community?
“We are very thankful for the international donors and government support. The funds provide us with a lot of encouragement to make a living and develop our production. Even more support - in infrastructure and technology - would help us improve our productivity and living conditions.”

Q: Some young people may have a negative view of farming, rural areas and agriculture. What are your thoughts?

“Some young people may think negatively of rural life, but I think we have to try our best to develop our village and community with what we have. I think it is possible to achieve this through tea farming and livestock production, so that everyone can have a better life.”

Q: What do you think would make rural life attractive to young people?

“To make this life more attractive to young people, rural areas need to improve the overall infrastructure and technology to facilitate our daily work and help us earn a better income.”

Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learnt in life so far?

“The greatest lesson I have learned in life is that it is important to focus on helping younger generations. I hope to help make the lives of younger generations, of my community, and of my family better.”

Q: Who inspires you in your life?

“My parents inspire me the most because they encourage me to be dedicated to and carefully pay attention to their plantation and livestock production. Thanks to them, I have improved our lives with farming.”

Q: What advice would you give to other young people who want to do what you are doing?

“I would advise young people to focus on their career, because in farming dedication is very important. They should focus and apply the knowledge they get to have good production. The training helped me a lot to be more dedicated to my production.”

Q: What are your dreams and plants for the future?

“In the future, my plans are to keep tending my plantation so I can achieve my dream of having a better income for my family and contributing more to the Youth Union.”