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Positioned in the famous Mekong River Delta, southern Vietnam, Bac Lieu is a coastal province famous for persevering salt farmers. Along with making salt, Bac Lieu residents also earn their livelihood by planting rice, fruit trees, catching seafood - which uphold considerable amount of traditional and cultural values, making the place a must-visit place for all nature lovers, especially those wanting to mingle with locals' daily lives.
Seen from above, the rectangular fields neatly line up. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
Salt fields near the coast in an aerial shot.
Salt making is a strenuous job that requires blood, sweat and tears. Before staring, the farmers must store water, prepare and clear the ground for the drying process. Then, saltwater is let into the field. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
Bac Lieu is one of Vietnam’s top provinces that have biggest salt-producing areas, with Dong Hai and Hoa Binh districts are its two largest. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
The farmers here follow two salt production methods. With the traditional one, saltwater is laid on dry land for crystalizing into black salt. Meanwhile, the modern method requires a mat, saltwater will evaporate into white sands, which are sold at a higher price in the market. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
Bac Lieu salt produces one crop each year, between around December to April, before the rainy season begins. In the 2019-2020 season, Bac Lieu salt farmers produced 1,670 hectares of flats, an estimated yield of 50,000 tons (about 4,700 tons of white salt).
“The crop is fruitful this year. Thanks to the hot weather and high heat, we can shorten the crystalization time, facilitating the production process”, Tran Van Nghia, who has been devoting 35 years on producing salt at An Dien hamlet, Long Dien Commune said. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
After around 12-18 days, saltwater evaporates and leaves behind salt. The farmers then rake salt into mounds early in the morning or afternoon. The salt is then left to drain before being transported on wheel carts to gathering place. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
Along with wheel carts, Bamboo baskets are also used to carry the salt. Each basket weighs around 40 kg and sometimes slips from farmers’ grasp and hurts them.
“We salt farmers always hope for scorching sunny days so that our arduous work is at least profitable”, Linh, who’s carrying the bamboo baskets on his back in the picture shares. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
Huge piles of salt are what the farmers can reap after days of hard work. According to them, black salt is sold at VND800-900 (3-4 cents) per kilogram and white salt for VND1,200-1,400 (5-6 cents). (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
Sunrise in Dong Hai salt field. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
Bac Lieu salt was granted the geographical indication protection by the National Intellectual Property Office in 2013. The salt is one of the well-known produce in Bac Lieu province, which is widely used by locals across the country and usually showcased at international fairs.
To affirm the salt brand and honor salt making career of Bac Lieu locals, the Bac Lieu Museum has sought cultural heritage recognition for the province’s salt fields from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. (Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Luong via VNE)
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