VietnamCulture and HistoryVietnamese Rice Production

Vietnamese Rice Production

Rice is the kind of cereal that is a must-have in every Vietnamese family meal. Vietnamese rice is quite different from the long grain of Indian rice or the round risotto. Vietnam is also one of the largest rice exporters, with countless paddy fields from north to south. In this article, you will learn about Vietnamese rice production and usage.

Vietnamese Rice Production

There are two to four production seasons, and the main ones are winter-spring and summer-autumn. The crops and productivity are the highest during these seasons. In 2016, the total area for the winter-spring crop was 3 million hectares and 2.8 million hectares for summer-autumn. The total produced in the first crop weighed 19 million tons and 15 million tons in the second.

Even though you can find thousands of rice fields across Vietnam, the Mekong Delta deserves to be titled the country’s ” rice bowl, ” with 4.3 million hectares producing 24.2 million tons in 2016. The Red River Delta and the Central of Vietnam each had about 1 million hectares for the crop and produced 6.7 million tons of rice.

To produce that amount of crop, a farmer’s day usually starts as early as 5 a.m. The farmers spend their days working under the scorching sun, and the labor is even more intense, where there is little access to technological advancement. All of the production is mostly done manually in those places.

Preparing the fields for Vietnamese rice plantation

To prepare the field for rice planting, the soil has to be plowed to remove weeds and remains of the latest crops, harrowed to create a soft surface, flooded, dried, and leveled. These steps in the preparation take months before the field can be used for seeding. Traditionally, the farmers have buffalo plowing and raking the rice fields instead of using machines. A plow or a rake is tied to a rope settled around the buffalo’s neck; a farmer follows behind to drive the buffalo direction. A buffalo is an economical option because they can endure the heat well, and it is easy to feed in a grass field nearby. However, it doesn’t yield much productivity, so nowadays, machines are preferred when available to farmers.

Growing Vietnamese rice plant

The Vietnamese rice plant can be seeded directly on the fields or germinated in seedbeds before being transplanted into the fields. To keep the moisture and kill the weeds, the fields will be flooded with a certain amount of water. In the past, the water was scooped from the canals and dug around the rice crop with buckets tied to bamboo posts and ropes like a swing. However, as technology advances, a system of canals and pumpers can do this labor-intensive work.

Check out beautiful rice fields in Vietnam!

Harvesting the rice grain

When the time for harvest comes, it is still imprinted in most people’s minds, the image of farmers working in the fields with the bush hooks in their hands to cut the plants, a couple of other farmers beating bushes of the cut crop against wooden boards to separate the grains, some ladies screening to remove the dirt from the grains skillfully with their rice sifter basket. Like other steps in Vietnamese production, the machine has slowly replaced the traditional and manual way of production; only one machine truck driven by one person can finish all of these processes in no time.

Milling the grains

The grains are then milled to remove the husk, hull, and bran, revealing the beautiful translucent white rice kernel inside. Doing this with a manual hulling mill takes a lot of energy, and people must take turns. With the new machine, labor and time are saved, and the final products are more consistent and nicely cleaned.

Despite the hard work, farmers in Vietnam were reported to have received fewer profits from all three crops (about 2-3 times lower) than other farmers in Southeast Asian countries. Not only are they individual suppliers among the millions, but most of the products they sell are raw, without enough technology support and facilities to store, process, or examine the grain. Thus, the farmers have to accept the price the traders offered.

Vietnamese Rice Export – Quality and Quantity

Vietnamese rice is exported to over 150 countries across the globe, mainly to China (38%), the Philippines (9%), Malaysia (9%), and Ivory Coast (9%). In 2016, Vietnamese rice export revenue of 2016 was US$ 2,159 million for over 4,500 thousand tons exported. In 2017, Vietnam was the third-largest exporter (7 million tons), with Thailand and India topping the chart, even though Vietnamese rice-milled production was 42.8 million tons, 1.5 times higher than Thailand’s.

The export of Vietnamese rice went even further downhill when, in the first half of 2018, the export price dropped below US$390/ton. Vietnam’s rice production is high, but the exports are low because of the quality and food safety standards.

Vietnamese farmers got used to growing traditional seeds, which resulted in high quantity but low quality. The government is trying to encourage the farmers to produce new kinds of seeds that would be more difficult to grow but result in much better quality, forsaking the quantity target (7-8 million tons/year) to set a new target for the quality production (2-3 million tons/year). The rice grains process also needs development since the rice with 15% broken rice amounted to 36% of total production.

Besides, many preservation chemicals remain in the final products, which cannot meet the food safety standards of most Western countries. According to research in Vietnam, about 70 million tons of non-organic fertilizers and 3,800 pesticides (out of 4,000 kinds imported, with only 19% of them being bioproducts) are used on paddy fields in Vietnam.

Vietnamese Rice and Its By-products Usages

In Vietnam, rice prices range from as low as VND 12,000 to as high as VND 35,000. However, most households choose the average kind of food, between VND 15,000 and VND 20,000, to cook their daily meals. You can easily buy rice in the local markets or supermarkets.

Image source

Besides the traditional bowl of white rice to eat with every family dish, the fried rice and scorched burnt rice would make you fall in love with their smoky smell, flavorful taste, and diverse variation. Rice is also ground, diluted with water, and shaped to make noodles, rice crackers, and rice papers or fermented to make vinegar and wine. In the past, when there were no office supplies like glue or tape, people used leftover rice to stick papers or letters.

Vietnamese traditional cakes made from rice

The white rice kernel has many usages, and so does every rice by-product; nothing will go to waste when you are in Vietnam. The straw can be used as fuel in the kitchen, composts, the bed to grow the straw mushroom “nam rom”, or made into fashionable items like a flip-flop or a wide-brimmed hat. The rice husk can be used as solid fuel; the rice bran is mainly used to feed cattle like pigs.

Vietnamese rice paper

If you are interested in finding more about Vietnamese cuisine ingredients, check out the extensive guide to Vietnamese vegetables, Vietnamese herbs, fish sauce, and tropical fruits.

- Advertisement -

More Vietnam Travel Guides

First Time in Vung Tau

Vung Tau City is a coastal tourist and economic-centric city in Ba Ria -...

Enjoy The Night with A Dinner Cruise in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City at night is a true masterpiece, especially the landscape along...

The Best Pho in Hanoi and Where to Find It

Pho is probably the most internationally recognized dish that has ever come out of...

11 Best Places to Live in Vietnam

Moving to another country to live in can be one of the riskiest decisions...

What Does Vietnam Mean?

According to many historical experts, the country's name has changed more than 20 times...

How Much Money Do I Need for Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh City is arguably the most expensive city in Vietnam, yet it...
Powered by 12Go system