A day in the life of a Vietnamese rice farmer

Vietnamese rice farmers

Vietnam Rice farming working with water buffalo

Vietnamese rice farmers live is extremely hard. They must wake up before the sun rises to start their work.

I lived in rural Vietnam as a rice farmer for 16 years before moving to stay in Hanoi so I know how hard the lives of the farmers is. Today, I would like to write about Vietnamese farmers from my personal experience.

Vietnamese Rice farmers have hard lives

In the old days, they often walk from home to the rice paddy field but now by bicycle or motorbike. They take a break under a big banyan tree or right at the edge of the rice field to take a cup of fresh green tea or smoke tobacco.

They return home around noon to have lunch, nap, and return to rice paddy field around 2.30pm. Each family member has certain jobs to perform.

Men do heavy labor like plowing, digging, and transferring rice to their homes by Xe Tho “Vietnamese bamboo bike” . Vietnamese women are really dedicated and hard-working.

They often work around the home and plant, weed and harvest on the rice field. The old and young kids stay at home and do some light work such as sweeping the floor, cooking lunch and dinner, feeding animals, washing clothes and son on.

The whole family works on the rice field with planting or harvesting rice.  They often wear cotton trousers and shirts, which can easily be folded up and away from mud and water. Most of them wear rubber boots. “Non La” or conical-shaped hats are widely used in Vietnam to protect them from the sun lights and rain.

The day ends up with a family meal together. It’s a great time for all family members to share their stories and get closer to each other. As you can see in their working schedule, they work so hard from early morning till late evening, almost 12 hours a day.

They are also working 7 days a week. You can imagine they work over 80 hours a day, twice the total time period than those working in the office. But life is never going easy. When it comes to bad weather such as typhoons, storms, heavy rain or drought, rice productivity is going low so it makes life harder and harder for the rice farmers so they are worried about the weather all the time so they pray to Buddha, God for bumper crops. The average productivity for both of seasons is around 300 to 360 kilograms of rice. After deducing the cost for pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer, etc… , the benefit are their own power.

What has changed about Vietnamese rice farmers lives

Most of the young are from 18 to 30 years old at a low level of education in rural areas are taking labor works in industrial parks, big cities or overseas because of much better income than working on the rice field.

When it comes to harvest season, they might do harvesting or hire someone to do it instead.

Both husband and wife from rural villages now work in the big cities. The man works as a builder while the woman works as a street vendor. If they have a kid who are studying in a university or college, it is a big challenge in term of financial issues and how to earn enough money to support their kids.

A common saying from a rice farmer to their kids is “Study harder, pass a university entrance exam to get a “good job” with a good income for a better future. Otherwise, you will follow a water buffalo plowing on the rice field like us. It is always in my mind as a boy was born and raised in a rural village.
Hanoi Eco Tour’s team hope this article will help you understand more about hard lives of Vietnamese rice farmers. If you want to experience real lives a rice farmer. Let’s join wet rice cultivation tour in Hanoi with Hanoi Eco Tours for a true local experience.

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