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Climate Change Pushes Vietnam’s Rice Growers to Farm Shrimp

Climate Change Pushes Vietnam’s Rice Growers to Farm Shrimp

Farmer Ta Thi Thanh Thuy worked hard for years to grow rice on her small piece of land near the mouth of the Mekong River in Vietnam. But now Thuy has started farming shrimp. Many of her neighbors over the last 10 years have done the same.

In the past, such a change was unlikely. However, the effects of climate change are making rice-growing in her area more difficult. Seawater has brought higher salt levels to the Mekong River Delta area.

Officials hope the move toward shrimp farming will improve the country’s seafood industry. The government has set the high goal of increasing shrimp exports by more than 100 percent to $10 billion by 2025. Local governments are giving farmers training and some assistance, including loans with good terms.

"Life was very hard for us until we began to farm shrimp," Thuy told Reuters news agency. The 52-year-old farmer also said, "Many shrimp farmers around here have been able to build nice houses and open saving accounts at banks.”

"We planted rice but we harvested no rice," said Ta Thanh Long, another shrimp farmer. "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."

At least one-third of the rice farming area along the 72-kilometer coastline of Soc Trang Province has been affected by seawater in recent years. That information comes from Duong Minh Hoang. He is the former director of the province's Agriculture Promotion Center.

Hoang said the center has urged people to farm things that will grow in salty water. He said climate change is affecting everyone, so they have to try new things to survive.

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