The individuals I photograph on my travels don’t benefit from my presence, not in an immediate sense anyway. In fact, there’s potential for harm to them if I damage their landscape or use my images inappropriately. So I walk that edge of privilege and responsibility in observing the lives of people from different cultures. Rice farmers in the mountainous regions of north Vietnam walk edges in a different sense. In fact they Live on the Edge – in a literal sense and with their subsistence lifestyle.
It is said that the goal of every Vietnamese farmer is to purchase a buffalo; find a wife and build a house … in that order
Rice constitutes about 3/4 of the daily calorie intake in the Vietnamese diet and it takes 3 months to grow a crop. Seedlings are gathered in bunches and transplanted in rows into prepared fields. Men and water buffalo work hard to carve steps into every available space on steep slopes.
The rice takes two months more to mature and is ready to harvest when the field is yellow.
In recent years there has been a move to diversify farming to include corn and other crops.
Now when I eat a bowl of rice, I have much more respect for its origins and the human hands that have worked to grow it in every inch of what seems to me to be inhospitable land.