Vietnam’s ‘white gold’

Golden Afternoon in Vietnam by Hai Thinh. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice, after Thailand. Evidence of rice farming in Vietnam dates to the Neolithic period. www.flickr.com

Golden Afternoon in Vietnam by Hai Thinh. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice, after Thailand. Evidence of rice farming in Vietnam dates to the Neolithic period. http://www.flickr.com

Vietnam has a long history of rice production. Rice is the ‘white gold’ of the country, yet organic rice farming is not as widespread as it used to. Vietnamese farmers have been producing rice for centuries. Modern farming technologies use pesticides and artificial chemicals that destroy the soil and eco-system. That is why it is not surprising that a lot of farmers across the world have turned to methods of organic farming. Vietnam has done the same and restored the traditions of bio farming used centuries ago. The Vien Phu Organic and Healthy Foods Company became the first Vietnamese company that obtained American and European certificates for organic food production.

What does it really mean: organic rice production?

Imagine a rice paddle where ducks and fish live together and work in cooperation, and where farmers use micro-organic fermentation instead of pesticides. Why ducks you may ask; will they not destroy the seedlings? No they won’t. Ducks actually get rid of insects and weeds and they mix up the water that, in turn, reduces sunlight access to the roots for better farming. The fish will help with the byproduct of the ducks – their manure, as “about 30– 35% dry feed consumed by ducks are usually undigested and excreted in manure.”

This example shows how interdependent our eco system is: if you take out one element the whole system might collapse. Insects thrived without ducks that is why farmers used pesticides causing destruction of the soil, microorganisms and little fish.

Fish-duck cooperation has already proved its economic efficiency in the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan, and now it is Vietnam’s turn. It sounds like a perfect cooperation between the farmer and the animals. The farmer does not need to worry about weeds and insects; he can even earn extra money selling organic fish and ducks at the local market.

Please check a video about duck farming

Why choose organic?

Some skeptics might say that organic food is not different from conventional food. National Geographic says that organic rice contains less protein, so technically it has less nutritional value. A research at Stanford University concluded that there is no evidence that organic food is ‘healthier’ than non-organic one. Fruit and vegetables contain the same levels of micro elements and vitamins and nutritional value does not differ much either.

Then what about the level of pesticides? The study lacks analysis on the impact of fertilizers and pesticides on human body. No one can say for sure what harm they cause. If fertilizers and pesticides destroy the soil, then what are their side effects on human body? Vietnam produces tons of rice per year. Organic method of production is relatively new, yet it might create a real alternative for better farming as no one can estimate the level of damage to the environment.

Advertisements