Photographer's Note


Photo: Minority farmers are transplanting young rice from beds — the second step in rice cultivation process — at Bắc Hà District, Lào Cai Province, near Sino-Vietnam border. (Sorry about the bad scan from print).

Virtually every Vietnamese household consumes rice. According to a survey, the average consumption was 153 kg of rice per capita. This is equivalent to 11.8 million tons of total rice consumption or roughly 70 percent of the 1997 rice harvest.

Rice consumption patterns vary according to both income level and region. Across income groups, rice consumption tends to rise initially and then decline. Part of this pattern is due to the fact that urban household eat less rice than rural ones do, and the higher income groups contain more urban households than lower income groups. However, even within urban and rural areas, this pattern can be found.

Across regions, rice consumption also varies. Per capita rice consumption is above 160 kg in the Red River Delta, compared to just 133 in the Southeast.

The Red River delta is the hub of all economic activity in the north of Vietnam, where the majority of the region's population is concentrated. The delta, which supports nearly half the country's rice production, is under threat due to its strategic position and unchecked population growth that is putting an increasing strain on resources. Food production is endangered by periodic flooding and environmental degradation caused by intensive farming methods designed to increase crop yields. Vietnamese planners are using satellite imagery to model and monitor change in an effort to solve the delta's problems.

Deforestation in the hills surrounding the Red River delta is leading to increased erosion, which in turn is causing more solid matter to be washed down to the delta. Alluvium that would otherwise provide rich nutrients for delta soils is blocked by levees built in the 18th century. And tectonic activity is causing basins barely four to five meters above sea level but as far as 60 km inland to become permanently water-logged.

The rice harvest during the second half of the year is vital to food production in the delta. This period is invariably preceded by flooding that poses a serious threat not only to agriculture but also to the economy in general. One of the effects of new free-market policies has been to increase crop yields through intensive farming practices, which only degrade the environment further. (Source)


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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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