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Photo: Hard work on the largest salt field in the North

Under the hot sun of October, salt farmers in Bach Long commune (Nam Dinh) are still diligently going to the fields to create pure salt to supply to the market.

For many generations, salt production has become a traditional occupation of the salt people in the coastal areas of Nam Dinh province. In the early days of October, dozens of people in Bach Long commune (Giao Thuy district) were still working hard to create pure white salt particles.

Bach Long commune is the largest salt field in the North, with an area of ​​up to 230 hectares, providing an output of up to tens of thousands of tons per year. Most of the salt workers in Bach Long are now elderly people who have worked for a long time. Young workers are no longer interested in traditional jobs of their homeland because of their precarious income.

The salt people started working at 5 am. The first thing they do is create soil plots, then pour the filtered sea water from the previous day on the drying plots to keep up with the sun. The job sounds simple, but it takes experience to have pure white dry salt batches. If too much is poured, the salt will hydrate, not dry, and cannot be harvested.

After creating plots of land, the salt people sprinkled sea water on the drying yard and sprinkled it with salt. The water is led directly from the sea, then drained to the original field, under the influence of sunlight, the amount of water in the seawater evaporates less, at this time the salinity in the water increases higher than the original. The salt people would draw this water and pour it into the fields below to create salt.

Mr. Hao (a salt farmer here) said that many salt fields in Nam Dinh are entering the harvest season, but people have not yet calculated how much profit. The farmers worry about the unseasonal rains pouring down, both losing salt and having to spend more money to renovate the fields and yards to restore production.

“Working hard for several months, but near the time of harvest, just one rain is considered empty-handed. Salt making is so hard, so now my children don’t follow the profession anymore, but do lighter jobs…”

“The grain of salt cannot support our family. My husband and I work from morning to evening but only earn more than 200,000 VND. This amount is too little compared to the labor that my wife and I spend. Salt making is a waste of money. Moreover, depending on the weather, the price of salt is unstable, so salt farmers still cannot escape poverty and suffering,” said Mr. Hao.

In the afternoon, from 15:00 to 16:00 the time when the salt becomes granules, the salt people must quickly gather the salt to the tent to buy. When the salt started to precipitate, the salt farmers used rake tools to rake the salt to gather like small pyramids on each field. Then, they use trucks to collect, pack and sell in the market.

After harvesting the salt, the salt farmers will use a rake to clean the impurities left on the field, then pour new water in and wait until the sun is hot, the salt will precipitate to harvest a new batch of salt. 

The salt piles have been carefully filtered for impurities, the salt people will carefully cultivate, then put them into the brothel. By the next day, traders come to buy at the place and a few supply to the retail market. The process keeps repeating.

Although the working life of salt making is very hard, the salt people still stick to the profession and diligently make pure white salt to serve the people.

Mr. Pham Van Quang, Vice Chairman of Bach Long Commune People’s Committee said: “In order to partially remove difficulties for salt farmers and support them to maintain the salt industry, the commune has re-planned the salt production area. Inefficient production areas are invested in infrastructure and converted to land for crops, livestock and aquaculture. The locality also set a target of producing 10 thousand tons of salt per year and supported bringing salt to clean salt production facilities. Currently, the whole commune has more than 30 agents and 4 companies purchasing and processing salt.

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