HEPA (Human Ecology Practical Area) Farmer Field School (FFS) is a pioneering training dedicated to strengthen indigenous youth. HEPA FFS lies at the heart of the 6 inter-thematic networks action of Mekong Community Network Action for Ecological Trading (MECO-ECOTRA).
MECO-ECOTRA stands for the Grass-root vulnerable indigenous & ethnic minority people in Mekong region since 1995 continuously up to today and; ongoing up to next 2025 which have now been reorganized in 3 thematic network couples: 1) Community Ownership of Spirit Forests coupled with Customary Law in Community Governance and Natural Resource Management; 2) Eco-farming in Land Use Planning (promoting local knowledge participation in farming) coupled with Farmer Field Schools (at household, community, region and inter-nation levels) for building up practical eco-farming curriculum for local vocational training and governing in food sovereignty and transmission of farming knowledge from generation to generation; and 3) Herbal Medicinal Wisdom in Community Health Care and Bio-cultural Diversity Preservation coupled with Eco-Food and Textile Production, moving toward “Community based Eco-Enterprises” in order to initiate local niche market networks for food security and self-sufficiency.
These three thematic network couples are designed to promote Livelihood Sovereignty defined in term of the achievement of Five Livelihood Rights: 1) The right to land, forest and water (basic); 2) The right to maintain one’s own religion in their own land, forest and water (unique); 3) The right to live according to one’s own culture on their own land, forest and water (practice); 4) The right to operate according one’s own knowledge and decide what to plant, initiate, create and invent on one’s own land, forest and water (holistic), and 5) The right to co-manage or co-govern natural resources with neighbouring communities and local authorities (strategic).
Youth based Teaching by Learning, Learning by Doing in order to practice decentralization and democratization for Young Indigenous Ethnic Leadership Development Strategy (YIELDS) is daily responsibility in HEPA – FFS.