A three-year pilot agricultural tourism project in three rural provinces has helped to diversify ecotourism products and raise incomes of local farmers, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Farmers’ Association Nguyen Huu Duc, said on Monday.

With the support of Agriterra, a development arm of five farmers’ unions in the Netherlands, the Vietnam Farmers’ Association had chosen Tien Giang and An Giang provinces in the south and Lao Cai province in the north for the 2006-09 project to help local farmers develop their household economy and escape poverty, Duc said.

The provinces each have chosen two rural areas that have potential for agricultural tourism to participate in the projects. Selected farmers in the rural areas are provided with professional skills courses on tourism services and are instructed to provide with tourism products that meet foreign tourists’ demand. The project has also transferred farming techniques for selected farmers and instructed them to set up farm models to attract tourists.

Under the project, tourists would stay at local people’s houses, visit local tourism sites, enjoy local traditional festivals and dishes, and participate in farming activities. Duc said local travel companies began to cooperate with the project last month to promote agricultural tours.

In Tien Giang province, 25 farmer households in Chau Thanh district’s Vinh Kim commune and My Tho city’s Tan My Chanh commune and the Tien Giang Province Farmers Association have cooperated with travel companies to offer agricultural tours, including visiting famous Lo Ren star apple orchards in Vinh Kim commune, Go Thanh archaeological site in Cho Gao district, and small islets in the Tien river.