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Villages of Hope
The Ricemakers of Vietnam



Village farmers there team with scientists called "ricebreeders" to improve their harvests and livelihoods. Working together, the farmers and breeders form a modern legion of "ricemakers", helping to shape the future for 82 million Vietnamese men, women, and children.

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.

Nuclear science is among reasons why fortunes are turning. It is helping to accelerate the age-old process of plant breeding that leads to better crops.

Farmers in Vietnam and other countries of Asia live in the cradle of rice cultivation. Rice farming started there thousands of years ago, when wild rice was first domesticated. From season to season, farmers improved their harvests, by selecting and saving the best seeds from the highest yielding crops in their fields.

Today more modern tools and methods accelerate nature's way. Rice breeders often apply a process that includes the laboratory irradiation of seeds and plant tissue cultures — usually called induced mutation breeding — to alter plant traits and characteristics. Research yields promising lines of new crop varieties — some that tolerate drought or poor soil conditions, others that resist disease, and still others that meet quality standards for export. In Vietnam, the best are screened and selected in field trials at agricultural stations and in villages like Thanh Gia, Dong Tien, Bau Don, and Cu Chi.

Vietnam's progress points the way forward to greater food security. From the north's Red River valleys to the south’s Mekong Delta, 21st century ricemakers achieve results entire villages can see. They help to feed a nation and its hopes and dreams.

(Source: International Atomic Energy Agency)


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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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