Vietnam ~ Farming and Burial Customs

March 31 ~ North Vietnam

Tending to her crops by hand

Tending to her crops by hand

Conical woven hats dot the fields. Both women and men can be seen squatting over their crops, using wooden hand tools, or planting by hand. This is agricultural land where over 70% of the Vietnamese population live in rural areas. Agriculture is their main livelihood. 

Watering rice fields can be done by corralling small plots with hand-built dykes. Tiny hand pumps and hoses may be used to pump water from one side of the dyke to the other.

Small individual plots are watered by hand, carrying aluminum cans with long spouts. It is labor intensive and a long way from the large heavy equipment we see on our farms in the United States.

Watering may be done by corralling small plots with hand built dykes, or by hand, carrying metal spouted cans.

Using metal watering cans

Each plot appears to be lovingly cared for. This is their livelihood. Their family depends upon a successful crop to survive. There is a stark contrast between urban and rural income levels, but both pale in comparison to what we might assume. The average wage in Vietnam is around 3.2 million VND ($150) per month. It is markedly less in rural areas where a farmer may make only $50 a month.

Hunger and poverty is real in Vietnam. It has existed for a long time and most of the Vietnamese population lived under the poverty line until economic reforms in 1986. There have been some improvements, but according to the 2014 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report, Vietnam ranked 15th out of 81 nations suffering from hunger.

Hammock in the tree for nap time

Hammock in the tree for nap time

“The countryside, for the most part, is a patchwork of tiny plots. The average Vietnamese rice farmer cultivates a little over an acre (0.5 hectares), when two or three hectares is the ideal plot size.” ~ The Economist

Notice the burial plot

Notice the red burial monument

Another piece of trivia regarding Vietnam is their burial routine. When someone dies in rural areas, the body is cleaned, placed in a coffin and then buried for three years in a marked location in the rice or planting fields.

“In some rural parts of Vietnam, especially with peasants’ families, the coffin is placed in the middle of the rice field and the dead’s eldest son has to walk backward, or even rolling on the muddy ground, to show his regret of his parent’s death.” ~ Vietnamonline.com

At the end of the three-year period, the coffin is dug up, the bones are collected, cleaned and then moved into a family plot or grave, often in a more conventional graveyard setting.

Planting rice by hand, one small bundle at at time

Planting rice by hand, one small bundle at a time

“Vietnam is currently the second biggest rice exporters in the world after Thailand, and also the second largest coffee exporter following Brazil. The nation, in addition, is the biggest pepper exporter.” ~ Vietrade.gov.vn (Nov. 2014)

Planting rice

Planting rice, reflections in the pond

Low tech, but at least this is motorized.

Low tech, but at least this is motorized.

Vietnam has a way to go to maximize her agricultural development. Right now there is still much exploitation of the natural resources, poor use of crop rotation, over planting, low technology, high loss of product after harvest, uneven quality of products, and poor sanitation.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for seeing the hard-working farmers lovingly tend to their crops. It is a back-breaking job, with only slim economic rewards, but it is an honest living and a way of life shared by many.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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4 Responses to Vietnam ~ Farming and Burial Customs

  1. GeorgieMoon says:

    Thanks for following my blog, I’ve just discovered yours. Wow! You sound like my sort of people. I love that you decided to take the risk, sell your unwanted possessions and go travelling. Much like we did five years ago, but we bought a yacht and sailed from UK to Greece. Hey, I don’t see Greece on your list! You must visit, it’s the best place ever. We’ve been to over 40 Greek islands so far……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Merrill says:

    I always enjoy learning a little something when I read your blog. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fascinating facts! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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