Lahu villagers blaze a path of sustainable development
Laodabao is a small village tucked away in Lancang county, Pu'er city of southwest China's Yunnan province. The villagers, mostly belonging to the Lahu ethic group, often jokingly tell the visitors, "We can sing as soon as we can speak and dance as soon as we can walk."
Upon entering the village, we heard singing as well as instrumental music. We came to a square in the middle of the village and saw many young people singing and dancing in the traditional Lahu costumes. The lyrics went like this, "Lahu, Lahu, Lahu, we are happy Lahu people; we live an auspicious life forever." Everyone was apparently in high spirits.
According to Peng Na'er, Party branch secretary of the village, Laodabao used to lag behind in transportation, water conservancy and other infrastructures, so the industrial development was slow, and the villagers had an average annual income of less than 1,000 yuan as late as in 2006.
Based on the local situation, the government decided to rely on the ecological environment and ethnic culture to build Laodabao into an ethnic minority style village. To this end, 7.407 million yuan was allocated to transform the thatched houses, upgrade other folk houses and pave the roads.
In 2013, the village established Lancang Laodabao Happy Lahu Performing Arts Co Ltd, the first farmers' performing arts company in Pu'er. Ever since then, the villagers have shaken off poverty through folk singing and dancing.
To date, the company has entertained over 100,000 tourists. "The admission to the show is 50 yuan per person, and the proceeds are distributed to the performers on a quarterly basis. We encourage the villagers to participate in the performances. They get more pay for more work," said Peng.
Also, there are various workshops in the village, where the tourists can watch crafts-persons make reed-pipes, bamboo articles, spinning tops, cloth and tea. The tourists can even get some hands-on experience if they like. So far, three homestay hotels and nearly ten farmhouse restaurants have been set up in the village, and ethnic products are especially popular with the tourists.
"Now that you've enjoyed our singing and dancing, you might as well try some Lahu-style barbecue. I strongly recommend the roast fish. And you can stay at our stilted houses for night, dipping deeper into the original Lahu culture," said Peng.
The splendid ethnic culture has attracted a growing number of tourists and brought real benefits to the villagers. By the end of 2019, Laodabao has achieved a gross tourism income of 9.27 million yuan and a per-capita disposable income of 11,241 yuan, blazing a path of sustainable development.
Source: Yunnan Tourism and Culture Times