A Hanoi village moves from cottage net weavers to budding industrialists

Thanh Nien News

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Tran Phu village, on the outskirts of Hanoi, sits far from any ocean, but its residents have become internationally renowned for their hand-crafted fishing nets.
Photos: Viet Cuong/Vietnam News Agency

The net weavers of Tran Phu village began as idle farmers passing time between harvests and have developed into a group of internationally-recognized industrialists, according to a report by the Vietnam News Agency.
Tran Phu sits along National Highway No.1, roughly 40 kilometers from downtown Hanoi in Thuong Tin District's Minh Cuong Commune.
Booths displaying nets of all sizes and colors line the road for nearly a mile.
The people of Tran Phu continue to worship a woman called "Holy Mother" who migrated to the village from her home in Thanh Hoa Province. Local legend has it that she taught the village how to make nets from plastic thread. 
Dinh Ngoc Khuyen, who owns a net factory in the village, said the manufacturing process remained completely manual throughout the 1980s, when the simplest net required four to five craftsmen. At that time, each craftsman specialized in just one step of the complex weaving process.
His predecessors at the time depended on unreliable imports of raw thread from Japan and Singapore.
Starting around 1996 some families in the village spent nearly VND10 billion (nearly US$480,000) opening plants to produce their own thread.
Their customers have expanded beyond fishermen to include farmers and contractors who use the nets to protect rows of flowers or vegetables from birds and to encircle construction sites.
Tran Phu has become a recognized brand across the country, as well as in China, Laos and Cambodia, creating jobs for the village's 1,500 residents and a number of migrant laborers.
Today, Khuyen employs more than 100 workers who are each paid up to VND200,000 ($9.5) a day. Elderly locals are contracted to do fine manual work at home for around $3 a day. 
His colleague Nguyen Van Quy, who owns one of the biggest factories in the village, goes through 90 tons of thread a month.

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