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Ban Lien Tea Cooperative Profile
Ban Lien is one of the remote villages of moutainous Bac Ha District in Lao Cai Province in the Northwest of Vietnam
1. History of ban Lien COOP
Ban Lien is one of the remote villages of moutainous Bac Ha District in Lao Cai Province in the Northwest of Vietnam. The distance to Hanoi is about360 km (10 hours by car) and to the capital of Lao Cai Province 75 km (3 hours by car). It located at tn elevation of around 900m above the sea level. Most inhabitants of Ban Lien belong to ethnic minority groups. Almost all are traditional tea growers and rely on small-scale agricultural oroduction for their daily needs and income.
Ban Lien Organic Tea Cooperative has beed supported by the Department of Economy, Lao Cai Province under its « Tea Development Program ». The aim of this program is to help tea farmers to increase their income from tea and to support the local cummunity to set up its own tea processing factory. However, due to lack of experinece the program was not successful in improving the martket access of the tea farmers. The local goverment, therefore aproachs a privates company, Hiep Thanh Co. Ltd for help. This tea company has close ties with Ecolink Co. Ltd, an export company with a social development background. Ecolink received budget from the Ford Foundation to support the development activities related to tea production and marketing in Ban Lien Village. Together both companys facilitated the foundation, registration and the initial operationak activities of the group, i.e. organic tea production and marketing. The group was registered as cooperative in 2004 with the Department of Economy of Lao Cai Province. Now 180 small households are operated in 8 subgroups.
2. Internal organisation of Ban Lien
Ban Lien Organic Tea Cooperative is an indepentdend organization which is established and operational by the Law of Cooperative of Vietnamese Constitution. The Cooperative can buy, sales, processing, export... by itself and followed buy its functions approved Business Certificate.
To join the cooperative, applicant have to own at least 500m2 of tea. applicants have to apply to be the members and sign on agreement of follow organic standards. There is no discrimination between man or woman, different ethnic minorities to be the member of the Cooperative.
The objectives and expected results are clearly written in the reports each year and plan of activities also prepared by board and officially inform to members in General Assembly. This activities and expected results are carried out and managed mothly by group meeting and board meeting quarterly. Usually, cooperative plan for time plucking tea, time of cutting branches, making compost, managing weed and pest, corrective actions with violated member... At begining of project, all group leaders are trained in