Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monday/Tuesday, February 13/14--Vietnam

Tuesday morning we departed from Guangzhou for Hong Kong by bus where we split our group and 22 of us continued on to Hanoi, Vietnam. The rest spent their final day in Hong Kong before departing for home Wednesday morning. The group in Vietnam were treated to a traditional Vietnamese supper at the Banana Flower restaurant.

Wednesday morning we met with Vietnam Farmer’s Union (VFU) where five officials were able to join us and share information about Vietnam agriculture as well as answer some questions. VFU is headquartered in Hanoi and has a 10 million members in 63 provinces. Of the 87 million people in Vietnam, 60% are farmers. They raise predominately rice (seven different varieties), crops and vegetables, and seafood. Vietnam exports rice, coffee, pepper, and seafood (catfish) and imports fruit and milk products. They are very passionate about promoting agriculture and teaching safety and ag production within their country. They have an advancement program for women to promote gender equality and development as 40% of their membership is women. We extended an invitation to them to visit South Dakota and showcase our ag industry as well as share the SDARL program curriculum. After a delicious Vietnamese lunch, we had the opportunity visit our tour guides home village. The farmer we visited rents 10 hectares from the government and raises ducks, pigs, and fish. We also got to see water buffalo tethered on the road, rice nurseries, and rice being planted in the paddies. The villagers were very welcoming and shared some of their businesses- rice saki distillery where they make saki and use the byproduct to feed the pigs, families that made products to burn during festivals in honor of their ancestors, and bamboo weavers making life size animal decorations for their festivals. After a quick shopping stop, we headed back to the hotel and had a free evening.

Respectfully submitted,

Marlin Nilsson and Danci Baker

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