Vi Van Om, a labor hero in Northwestern border area

(VOVWORLD) - Vi Van Om of the Xinh Mun ethnic group in Yen Chau district, Son La province, was honored in 2005 with the title Labor Hero in the Renewal Period for his contribution to national unity and poverty reduction in his locality.
Vi Van Om, a labor hero in Northwestern border area - ảnh 1Vi Van Om (Photo: Tong Duc Anh/ VOV) 

In recent years, rural areas near the border in Son La province have seen big changes.  New roads connect Yen Chau district to the Na Cai border station. These changes are partly attributed to Vi Van Om, former Vice Chairman of Chieng Om commune. Mr. Song Lao Dia, current Chairman of Chieng Om commune, said: “Since 2004, Mr. Om has helped to mobilize funds from Son La province to build a road from the district to the border gate. Local people are benefiting a lot from it”.

Vi Van Om returned from the army in 1972. Life in the locality was difficult then. There were no paved roads and local farmers lacked modern production techniques. Mr. Om used what he learned in the army and his ability to speak ethnic languages to teach local people how to apply modern science to their agricultural production. He also researched new methods to help farmers boost their incomes. In 1986, on a trip to Dan Phuong district, Hanoi, Om learned about a new maize variety which was easier to grow and produced higher profits. He brought it to the local farmers. Vang Lao Du of Yen Chau district, said: “We used to farm using habits that were not very effective. Thanks to new methods introduced by Vi Van Om, our agricultural productivity has increased”.

Mr. Om encouraged farmers to abandon old cultivation techniques and shift to growing wet rice. He traveled to other provinces to purchase new fruit tree varieties and piloted them in his area. Om first grew 500 plum trees in Chieng Om. Farmers followed his lead and expanded plum trees to 20 hectares. Many local farmers have become richer by growing fruit trees: “Only when basic living conditions are assured can other issues like national defense and border demarcation be addressed. Recently, local people have worked closely with border soldiers to prevent illegal border crossing and drug trafficking”.

Despite his age, Vi Van Om is still active and consults with local authorities about crop selection and husbandry models that can improve people’s lives. Vi Van Bien, a local from Yen Chau district, said: “Mr. Om is a role model in production. We trust him”.