After a bit of confusion with the local travel agent, who thought we had cancelled our day trip, we were on the road at 10am this morning to the fields around Hanoi. A few tourist spots were also in the itinerary.
We managed to stop and talk to two small rice growers. The first, Nguyen Huu Chan, has been growing rice since 1990 on his 224 sq m plot of land. The second, Nguyen Thi Dung, has been growing rice for 37 years, since she was 7 years old. Both farmers are experiencing warmer weather this season which is good for them as the rice at this time of year is normally very slow growing. Sometimes the weather is drier than in the past. It is hard to generalise from two brief informal interviews, but these two small farmers exemplified what our friends here have said in terms of many people not being well informed about what is happening more widely in terms of climate change and its local relevance.
There are important issues here in Viet Nam. Rapid urban development and industrial expansion are leading to loss of productive land, intensification of agriculture is taking place. These various pressures make the life of the small farmer relatively tenuous, particularly on the urban fringe. There are also other issues such as ongoing deforestation, some of which is illegal, and the need to balance this with reafforestation programmes.
In our upcoming visit to Thai Nguyen Province we hope to share a few positive stories from farmers in that area, some of whom I have visited in the past.