Climate change: Vietnamese rice farmers switch to shrimp
SOC TRANG – For years, Ta Thi Thanh Thuy toiled on a sliver of land sandwiched between the Mekong River and the South China Sea, a region widely known as Vietnam's rice bowl, to grow the prized grain.
But Thuy, along with many of her neighbours, has over the past decade completed a production swap - to shrimp - a previously unlikely shift that was spurred by the effects of climate change.
As rising seawaters bring significantly increased salination levels in the Mekong Delta region, the trend toward cultivating shrimp ponds is expected to supercharge the country's seafood industry.
"Life was very hard for us until we began to farm shrimp," Thuy, 52, said. "Many shrimp farmers around here have been able to build nice houses and open saving accounts at banks."
The seawater increase in the delta region has been compounded by the construction of several hyodropower dams upstream, further reducing fresh water flow.
"We planted rice but we harvested no rice," said fellow shrimp farmer Ta Thanh Long. "There was a time the rice could still grow when the water was still fresh. But then the water became more and more salty each year."