Many of the fields I saw during my trip through the mountainous north of Vietnam were not the lush green one commonly sees in photos of mountain farming in Vietnam. Some fields had crops growing, but many had been recently harvested or were fallow, waiting for the planting of rice and other summer crops.
The rice paddies around my home are serviced by a system of irrigation canals and ditches that ensure the fields have ample water. Sluice gates are positioned in a number of places to cut off, reduce, or re-direct the flow of water. From time to time, I see local farmers using the gates to adjust the flow. There is certainly a water management agency in charge of this activity, though I do not know how it is organized or at what level of local government it exists.
I also do not know how long the irrigation system has existed here, though I do know there are continuing efforts to improve it. In the last couple of months there have been several small projects to upgrade waterways. Sections of the system that had consisted of earthen ditches were dug out and lined with concrete walls and floors. I presume this reduces erosion and water loss from seepage, and increases the flow rate of the water.
Dinners in waiting.
The title above is, in fact, a bit of a come on. Sam – my lovable terror of a puppy – and I often run into this local farmer and his water buffalo when we are out for our morning walk. After seeing this fellow for some time, I have come to the conclusion that he is not taking these animals to the fields to work, he has them out for a morning walk, just as I have Sam out. Usually, Sam and I keep our distance when we meet this troupe – or more precisely, I force/drag Sam to go the other way – but this time we had to pass in a fairly narrow space. The calf and Sam really wanted to stop and get to know each other, sniffing and, in Sam’s case, jumping up and down, but their respective owners managed to move things along. In opposite directions.