It all started in 2002 with the digging of a pond. This piece of water, surrounded by a beautiful area near the rice fields, was the ideal location to make it into a kind of "Garden of Eden".
The idea made its way and it was in 2008 that the land surrounding the pond was fenced off. Then, thanks to a partnership with the City of Mulhouse (68) and the Youth Council, work was undertaken to build the "Bio" Agriculture and Fish Farming Training Centre.
A first large pond produces fish for sale. In order to diversify the different varieties of fish a second pond was dug in July 2009.
Tata Bé met with the members of the AMALA association in Schoenbourg (67), which financed this pond for fish farming.
It was dug in 2002 and is managed by the villagers and the municipality. The sale of fish makes it possible to set up a fund to help the most deprived in the event of illness, drought or death.
But its functioning is disrupted by groundwater problems. The digging of a well, supplied by a pump, will quickly prove to be essential.
In 2008, the Solidarity Pond evolved into an agricultural and piscicultural training centre for adults in Ban Na Teui, but also in the surrounding villages. It is managed by the villagers in the form of a cooperative, while the Savannakhet Agriculture and Forestry Administration provides theoretical training.
Work carried out: fencing of the land, digging of the well with pump and reservoir, provision of 20 trucks of cultivable land, construction of a storage room, an organic compost tank and toilets, installation of an irrigation system, planting of fruit trees, development of cultivation beds, and development of 2 basins for the breeding of fry.
After high school, most young people are out of work. Some, girls or boys, let themselves be trapped by the lark mirror that Thailand represents nearby. It seemed useful to us to continue our action with an opening towards active life.
This agricultural & fish training centre aims to help villagers to better understand basic agricultural techniques, without chemical input, in a natural and biological way (planting fruit trees, market gardening) and in the field of fish farming to improve breeding conditions.
The villagers will be able to sell quality products on the Savannakhet market such as peppers, long beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions and fish. For fruit trees, the objective of the training will be to teach villagers grafting techniques. Within five years, they will be able to harvest fruit and sell it in cooperatives.
This training takes place over 2 years, from December to April, before transplanting and after the rice harvest, when villagers are most available. It is provided by 2 teachers from the Agriculture & Forestry Department of the town of Savannakhet (17 km from the village); they are compensated only for their fuel costs.
The 1st year (in progress): on vegetable planting techniques with the addition of "organic" fertilizers made on site in the compost bin, natural insect protection techniques.
The 2nd year: grafting techniques with practical work.
The training focuses on "organic" sustainable development techniques. The village of Ban Na Teui has become a "pilot village" and is being promoted by Savannakhet officials as part of their policy.
The dug compost pit is used to produce a rich soil to improve vegetable growth, thanks to a mixture of rice grain bark (rice husk after hulling), cow dung, leaves and water that macerate in the pit.
Watering is done thanks to the water table but regularly the shoots are "boosted" by a "fruit alcohol"! It is a maceration of various fruits in water and sugar. After fermentation, it can either be drunk as an aperitif or sprinkled on the young shoots. We tested both...
July 2009, it is the first construction site of the heart: 10 young people from the Youth Council of the City of Mulhouse, while bringing the fruit (in €uros) of their actions in France, work on the "agricultural" site for 10 days and meet their Laotian correspondents.
July 2010, the operation is renewed. This is the second heart site, again as part of the partnership, with funding for the work thanks to the actions of 10 other young Mulhouse residents of the Mulhouse City Youth Council, who work on the Centre's "piscicultural" site, fish-farming
Thanks to their actions in France, they were able to provide a substantial budget that made it possible to carry out work with, as a highlight, the first harvest of organic vegetables.
Another partnership with the Amicale des enseignants du Lycée d'Enseignement Professionnel "Paul-Emile Victor" d'Obernai (67) has enabled the Centre to equip itself with a small two-wheel tractor, or large motor cultivator, called "Tek-Tek", with trailer.
In February 2010, a first inauguration took place in the village. A great celebration was organized, which our friends from Mulhouse could not join. It's only a postponement.
In 2015, the roof of the agricultural and fish farming centre, which was made of thatch, had to be replaced by sheet metal.
On July 19, 2016 an official inauguration took place in Ban Nateui in the presence of the Governor of the District of Kaysone Phomvihanh, the Deputy Mayor of the City of Mulhouse, the Director of Youth and Sports, the delegation of the Youth Council and its leader and the Alsace Laos association.
During the dry season, the small pond is dry and we had to dig again to reach the groundwater table in February 2017.
The organic and fish farming centre is now operating perfectly. The production of vegetables, fish and fruit is sold to the villagers and on the Savannakhet market. It is a significant source of income for sure.