How do Vietnamese farmers live and work?

Born into a farming family in the countryside, I’m still proud to be part of the Vietnamese farmers – the largest workforce here, even though I’ve worked in the tourism industry.

As an agricultural country, the peasantry gets eighty percent of laborers in the rural regions, which takes very important roles to contribute to developing life and maintaining enough food for domestic people and for export.

farmer visits rice field
A farmer visits his rice field. ©Vietnamdrive

You may want to know how the farmers work in Vietnam, how long is their work per day, and what their life. So, in the article, I will cover all main things above. Now go deeper below!

How are the works of farmers in Vietnam?

When mentioning Vietnam, surely many guests think of the big rice fields, because the small country exports over 7 million tons of rice per year to other countries in the world.

Of course, the main works of almost farmers are in the rice fields. Growing rice, taking care of rice – for example, watering it, cleaning grass in the field to help rice plants grow better, fertilizing it, spraying insects if any, and harvesting.

main work of farmer in rice field
Working in the rice fields in the main job of farmers. ©Vietnamdrive

Besides working in the rice paddy, many farmers in Vietnam spend their time in coffee farms – typically in the Central Highlands where lots of coffee trees are grown to export, and work in vegetable farms to care for various vegetables for everyday life.

The working day comes long for the farmers from 5:30 am when the sky is still cool, taking a break when it’s too hot at noon, and coming back to work until 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm.

What do they use for work?

Machines for plowing the rice paddy before a new crop or harvesting rice can be used in many regions of the country now. However, you may see a few buffalos working at small land sections for rice or vegetable farms. It is because buffalos are still cheap and convenient in small remote areas.

Human labor is also needed for working in the fields and on Vietnamese farms. The farmer’s hand working will take the rest of the work that the machine cannot do, such as fertilizing, watering small lands, fixing big spaces in the paddy, cleaning old leaves in vegetable farms, collecting sweet potatoes, and harvesting coffee fruits.

Two small tools – hoes and sickles – are vital for the Vietnamese people working on the farm. They use hoes to make the soil become soft, dig holes for plants, and clean grass around the trees. Sickles are used for cutting rice and grass, collecting vegetables, and picking fruits.

In general, although machines for farming come to Vietnam, many farmers still use their human power to work. It is because the machines are expensive and a lot of small lands is shared by different families in the countryside.

Experiences of Vietnamese farmers

A lot of Vietnamese farmers still work based on their experiences, not using any modern tools. They still guess the weather by looking at the sky, animals, or the moon to know when to prepare the seeds for growing new crops or collect the results.

dragon fly
Looking at dragon flies is a method to predict weather. (Alexas_Fotos/pixabay)
  • “Tháng 8 dòm ra, tháng 3 dòm vào” means in English “The eighth lunar month needs to see the North sky, the third lunar month needs to see the South sky”. This means that looking at the sky following around the months mentioned if you see a cloud in that area, it may rain soon.
  • “Chuồn chuồn bay thấp thì mưa, bay cao thì nắng, bay vừa thì râm” means when you see the dragonflies fly low (from 1 – 1.5 meters from the ground), it may rain soon; they flies at high (above 2 m from the ground), it is sunny; they flies medium level (over 1.5 – 2 m from the ground), it may be cloudy with title rain.
  • “Trăng quầng trời hạn, trăng tán trời mưa” means the round light around the moon, it may be sunny; the light spreads from the moon, it may rain.
  • Looking at the ants, they move up the wall with their eggs from underground, it may rain and flood soon.

These are the basic experiences, telling about the weather to farmers, which can help them prepare to grow new plants or collect crops on time to escape from the bad weather.

What do the farmers in Vietnam often cook and eat?

When you come to the restaurants in Vietnam to taste food, almost are not the same ones that the farmers here eat every day. Their food is not fancy, not very colorful, and does not have nice decoration as in shops.

They have steamed rice in everyday life, adding fish sauce, and one to three other dishes boiled – fried – stewed, including vegetables, eggs, fish, or meats.

meal of farmer

Typically, farmers eat breakfast very early, 5:30 am – 6:30 am, before going to the farms. And, lunch can also be early from 1:30 am – 12:00 pm. An important Vietnamese meal comes at dinner when the whole family members stay together from 5:30 am – 7:30 pm. However, between each meal, they can have brunch in the morning, and afternoon tea in the afternoon.

In general, farmers have more rice, vegetables, and fish than other food. In my opinion, although they can fill their stomach with plenty of steamed rice, it’s not enough energy and protein for working hard in the field, so most of them are very thin.

What do Vietnamese farmers grow in their gardens?

Most houses in the countryside have big gardens. Besides working in the fields and farms, they also grow a lot of things in their gardens to get more food, which can improve the quality of meals.

You can find a lot of free-range chickens in gardens in the villages in Vietnam. Pigs, cows, and buffalos are taken care of in big caves like small houses.

Plenty of green Vietnamese vegetables – such as salad, cabbage, sponge, lemon, and eggplant… can supply vitamins for them. Easy-growing trees such as bananas are easy to see there. And, of course, you can look at various Vietnamese herbs as well, which are often present in their fragrant food.

banana trees in gardens
Many bananas are grown in gardens.

If possible, a family dinner, typically in the countryside in Mekong Delta, can give you a good chance of going into the gardens. Or, staying at a homestay (real homestay), you may know more about their local culture.

What do farmers wear when working?

Working mainly in the rice field under the hot weather, the costumes of farmers are different, which suit each area, but often have these features:

  • They are simple, which helps them easy to work and move.
  • Clothes have dark colors to reduce dirt looking.
  • The shirts often have long sleeves to protect their skin from the sun and others.
  • They like to wear conical hats that help them avoid hot sunny heat.
  • In the past, most Vietnamese farmers went into the mud in the rice fields with bare feet. Now, many use plastic boots to protect themselves and avoid cold water during winter, typically in North Vietnam.
farmers wear long-sleeve shirts to work
Farmers wear long-sleeve shirts to work. (Lam Tran/pixabay)

So, when you travel to Vietnam, you can see an image of farmers in Vietnam with conical hats, and brown or dark clothes working in the paddy fields.

To improve the experience, many travel companies in Vietnam run eco-tours, which give you a chance to become a farmer to explore their work, and wear their traditional dresses.

You can find a few tours, such as:

  • In Hoi An (Central Vietnam), you can join a half-day tour in Tra Que vegetable village to learn how to grow rice.
  • In Mekong Delta (South Vietnam), you can learn how to catch fish in the mud.
  • In Hanoi (North Vietnam), an eco-tour helps you learn how to grow and water vegetables…
farmer works in vegetable farm
A farmer works in Tra Que vegetable village. ©Vietnamdrive

These eco-tours cannot cover all activities of farmers in Vietnam and their life, but they can support you to experience little or more of what they do. These activities will become bonus feelings for you to understand more about the farmer’s life in the country.

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.