Changes included sharp reduction in the rate of poor and near-poor households, improved living standards of local people, and firmly-consolidated defense and security posture.

Home to 43 ethnic minority groups, Kon Tum in the Northern Central Highlands has a 292km border with Laos and Cambodia.

Don’t let the soil rest

A Hnao from Rac village, Ya Xier commune, Sa Thay district happily said that his family was supported by the local authorities and district armed forces to grow more than 2 hectares of durian trees in early 2023. With good technical care, more than 450 durian trees have developed well. If the price of durian fruits is maintained, his family could earn more than VND 2 billion a crop a year in the years to come.

An officer from Sa Thay district Military Command shares durian tree-planting techniques with local people, October 2023. 

He recalled that without experience and human resources, he used to be afraid of planting durian trees. Then, with technical assistance from the district’s agricultural promotion cadres, working days from local soldiers and militia troops, and his family’s high determination of planting trees with high economic values, his family decided to replace the cassava planting model with the durian one. Other local households also followed this model.

Colonel Nguyen Cong Phu, Commanding Officer of Sa Thay district Military Command, said that ethnic minority people make up 57 percent of the district’s population and many still live in poverty. To develop socio-economy in ethnic minority areas, the district Party Committee’s standing board has assigned the local armed forces to launch effective models, such as twinning activities, mobilizing resources to give seedlings and breeding cattle, fertilizer to people in extremely disadvantaged villages, carrying out “Saturdays, Sundays for the people” program, and adopting needy students.

According to Mai Nhu Nam, Chairman of the People's Committee of Ro Koi commune (Sa Thay district), the commune is home to over 90 percent of ethnic minority people and has 11km border with Cambodia. Previously, local people still kept backward farming techniques and wasted land resources. To change that situation, with the motto “Don’t let the soil rest,” Ro Koi commune has mobilized the political system to participate, helping hundreds of households renovate their mixed gardens to plant vegetables and fruit trees, including durian and macadamia ones, raise cows and pigs. In this movement, military units and militia force have pioneered to disseminate information and contribute working days.

Helping local escape poverty   

Over the past two years, over half of poor and near-poor households have changed their minds and applied advanced techniques to production. Thousands of households have joined cooperatives. In late 2022, 6,115 out of 15,215 households escaped poverty, and one fourth of households escaped near-poverty.

Village patriarch A Dot from Rac village said that in the past, soldiers and militia force were the key to fight enemy, defend villages. At present, soldiers have taken the lead in encouraging locals to quit backward customs and focus on economic development. “In any fronts, troops and people share the same will,” said the elderly.

Highly appreciating the support of troops in poverty escape, Pham Thi Sau, Permanent Deputy Secretary of Party Committee of Ya Xier commune, said that the trust of locals in the Party and State has been promoted, the national unity bloc has been firmly built, and the political security, social order and safety have been maintained.

According to Senior Colonel Trinh Ngoc Trong, chief of the Kon Tum provincial Military Command, socio-economic achievements gained in ethnic minority areas have come from utmost efforts of the whole political system of the province, including the local armed forces with their effectively-launched models.

Translated by Mai Huong