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Workers reap rice, catch fish for a living in Ho Chi Minh City

A group of workers unemployed due to Covid-19 come to the fields in Thu Duc City to harvest rented rice, catch fish, and pick wild vegetables for a living.

Thanh My Loi Ward (Thu Duc City) is a locality located near the center of Ho Chi Minh City with a large field left. The land here is in the planning area, so people take advantage of rice cultivation.

For more than a week, the fields are ripe, the owner of the field hires a group of workers to reap in time to sow a new crop. “My family has 4 hectares of rice, because there are few people, we have to hire workers for every crop,” said Mr. Phan Van Sut, the owner of the field.

The group of workers about 15 people, mainly from the West, went to the city to do construction, repair work, porter… Since Ho Chi Minh City’s social distancing to fight the epidemic, they were unemployed, trying to find many ways. make a living.

Son (wearing a gray hat, a native of Kien Giang) and everyone else used sickles to cut rice in rows, from the bank to the middle of the field. “I went to Saigon to work as a housemaid for a few years. As usual, near the end of the year, there are a lot of projects, but now I don’t have a job. Recently, someone hired to harvest rice is very happy, with a little money to spend”, the young man 18 years old said.

Son’s parents and younger brother also left their hometown for the city a long time ago. Now no one has a job, wants to go home to avoid the epidemic, but has no money. For three months now, the whole family has to beg for money for lodging, divides into the field to find more fish, pick wild vegetables to eat.

Another group helps the owner to thresh the rice and carry it ashore. They are paid about 120,000 VND per person, working from morning to afternoon.

In the construction suit, Mr. Thanh Cong (blue shirt) always pours rice into the bag. Every day, they empty more than 100 bags.

“Now all works are suspended. I’ve been bored at home for a few months now, so I go to the fields to earn extra income. I’m not used to farming, so it’s easier to help thresh and dry the rice,” said Mr. Cong.

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Nhan carried each bag of rice, weighing about 50 kg, to the gathering point, 300 m from the field.

Each family brings drinking water, rice for lunch and rest right on the shore.

Leaning against a coconut tree, Ms. Loan rested for half an hour before continuing. She worked as a picker of bottles for 5 years, the epidemic came so now she can’t hold on to this job.

“Nobody goes out to the street but has a bottle to pick up, but if there is, I don’t know where to sell it. I live in a motel room and pay 300,000 VND per person a month, but I still have to owe. Now I can do whatever I want, I hope. The epidemic will soon pass so that we can return to normal life,” said the 56-year-old woman.

13:00, after the lunch break, the group of workers continued to harvest rice. According to the owner of the field, 80% of the crop has been harvested now and is expected to be completed in one day.

On the days when he went to the fields, Danh Khuong and his son also brought bags to catch more crabs, snails, fish… “Now that we have found a water snake, we will have delicious food in the afternoon,” said the 37-year-old man.

Khuong is a native of Kien Giang, Khmer ethnicity, there are no fields and gardens in the countryside, so the whole family has been taking each other to the city to make a living for more than 15 years. The epidemic broke out, he and his wife were unemployed, their unfinished school children had to follow their parents to work.

When not going to harvest rice, the group of workers earns their living by catching fish in the fields and canals in this area. “This whole month many people cast nets too much, so they only earn more than 3 kg a day, mainly perch, catfish, snakehead…, just to eat and share with neighbors,” a worker said.

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Nhan went to pick wild morning glory, pluck lotus root… for his daily meal.

The hut near the field is the residence of Mr. Nhan and 3 other workers. The hut was built by the owner of the field as a place to rest and for a few people to stay to look after the fields and dry the rice.

Panoramic view of rice fields in Thanh My Loi ward, near the toll station on Vo Chi Cong street. Farmers here grow two crops a year, harvesting in September and January.

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