Traditional craft villages in Hanoi City have a long history and contain rich tangible and intangible cultural values. Preserving and promoting their cultural values, characterized by high community spirit, is an important approach and a helping hand for the city’s socioeconomic development.
Chuong My district, located at the western gateway of Hanoi city, has 175 craft villages that are favorable conditions for the district to implement the OCOP program
Hanoi is now home to more than 1,350 craft villages, of which 318 craft villages are recognized. These include 67 craft villages, 48 agricultural processing villages, 22 fine-art handicraft villages, 16 material processing villages for rural industrial production, 196 wooden furniture, bamboo, rattan, pottery, glass, apparel, embroidery, knitting and mechanical villages, 12 ornamental creature villages; and five rural livelihood villages for rural residents.
The total annual revenue from craft villages in Hanoi is estimated at over VND20 trillion (US$900 million) on average. Craft villages witness revenue, production and export growth in the past time. About 100 craft villages have annual revenue of VND10-20 billion, nearly 70 craft villages rake in VND20-50 billion a year and about 20 craft villages fetch over VND50 billion annually. This collectively has significant contributions to the local budget growth. The development of craft villages also helps improve incomes for workers who are currently paid an average of VND5-6 million a month each. This level of income is generally low and unequal but still higher than that of agricultural workers. Notably, workers in craft villages in some districts are paid up to VND60 million a year as in Nam Tu Liem, Tay Ho, Hoai Duc, Bac Tu Liem and Thach That districts.
In order to preserve and develop traditional trades, Hanoi has introduced many support policies over the years to facilitate companies and business households in rural areas. The city has approved many schemes and projects and assigned departments, branches and localities to implement them. At the same time, Hanoi organizes annual OCOP evaluation and classification conferences. The recognition of OCOP products is an opportunity for stakeholders to uphold local cultural and historical values, promote development investment, improve product quality, and raise people’s incomes. In rural areas, new rural development has been elevated.
From 2022-2025, Hanoi will focus on developing OCOP products in traditional craft villages. It will preserve and develop traditional craft villages together with the New Rural Development Program, restructure the agricultural sector and the One Commune One Product (OCOP) Program to accelerate agricultural and rural industrialization and modernization process. At the same time, it will develop production along value chains and combine it with tourism, services and ecological protection.
To achieve the above goal, Hanoi has synchronously carried out many specific solutions like boosting trade promotion for craft products, supporting brand identity and building craft village websites. At the same time, the city has combined craft village conservation and development with tourism development programs to woo domestic and foreign tourists.
Preserving the unique culture
For Hanoi residents, the Old Quarters are not only an “urban cultural village” but also a “village of traditional crafts and trades” - a populous place where the trading of handicrafts formed products-specific streets, typical of Hanoi.
In the past, Hanoi used to have streets of products named after those products made and sold by households there. Today, those streets still carry their original names but those products are no longer sold there. They have become mixed commercial and business streets.
Hanoi promulgated the Capital Cultural Industry Development Project which regards the development of fine-arts handicrafts and traditional craft villages into “creative industries” that play a very important role in the city’s socioeconomic development. Vietnamese traditional handicraft trades are well grounded to become a key economic sector that drives the development of other cultural industries.
However, in recent years, traditional crafts have faced many challenges such as competition from industrial products, cheap imported products, insufficient personnel in craft villages, input supplies, high product prices, limited marketing and consumption markets.
To promote urban economic development, restore streets to their original meaning in the Old Quarters and tap the potential of traditional craft villages in and around Hanoi, it is essential to foster the intrinsic values of traditional products and creative designs for innovation and development.
In each handicraft product, we can see imprints of the natural and social environments together with the intelligence and the soul of artisans, and more broadly, the creativity of the whole community. Traditional crafts and craft products become a channel for keeping memories and a messenger for cultural exchanges. Making handicrafts into souvenirs popular with tourists and create\ing new products from traditional core values are our concerns.
Clearly, the outstanding value of traditional trades is a humanistic cultural resource, which is of fundamental significance for tourism development. Tourism with craft village discovery is an effective way for visitors to learn about cultural values in the Old Quarters. In today’s era of technological disruption, the creativity of artisans, traditional crafts and the quintessence of many traditional trades will stay forever and cannot be replaced by technological achievements no matter how advanced they are.
By Bao Dan, Vietnam Business Forum