Photographer's Note


Once upon a time people didn’t know how to cultivate to make rice the main food but rely on wild animals’ meat, roots, fruits and wild vegetables while the paddies along the river banks kept being added by alluvial soil. The Hùng King found out that such alluvial soil is fat land so he ordered local people to bank up to hold up water. It also came to his notice that wild rice could be seen everywhere so he taught the population on detachment of crops and sowing rice. At first, people didn’t know how to transplant. At their asking, he pulled up a early spouts, carried over to the watered paddy, waded through the mud and displayed how to perform the task.

Rice planting occurs during May and June. Seedlings are transplanted from the nursery to the rice paddies at the beginning of the rainy season. The peak of transplanting occurs around the 88th night (about May 2nd). The success or failure of the crop can seriously affect the following year.

According to FAO, Viet Nam is one of the original centers of rice cultivation and the Vietnamese are among the world's top five rice consumers, but surplus rice production was achieved only after the taming of the vast Mekong River Delta about 300 years ago. A popular Vietnamese proverb says "In normal times, the scholars rank first, the farmers second. But during a famine, farmers are first, scholars second."

Viet Nam has been the world's second largest rice exporter since the mid-1990s, but rice farmers are still poor due to low rice prices. Diversification of the intensive rice system has been promoted to improve farmers' livelihoods.


In another recent report, International Atomic Energy Agency stated that in Vietnam, for village families, rice fills their lives and feeds their hopes and dreams. Life is hard but looking up. Over the past decades, many families have almost doubled their incomes. They still live on less than $2 a day, but are aiming for three. The country’s per capita income is about $550 a year, and rising incrementally.

Though poor in income, the village families are rich in impact - their work feeds a country, and more. In little more than a generation, Vietnam has become one of the world's top rice producers. Today the nation exports rice to Switzerland and two dozen other countries around the world.

Fears of food shortages have given way to strategies for greater food security and markets. Through it all, the Vietnamese remain among the world's most optimistic people. A 2005 UN survey of Vietnam's households found that eight of ten families say their living conditions are improving day by day.

Photo taken in Bac Ha District near Sino-Vietnam border.


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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