Climate change forces farmers to plant rice at night

Farmers of the Tam Thanh commune in Vietnam say they have been forced to work at night in the fields to avoid searing temperatures that they say have got worse over the years. “Temperature are rising one or two degrees (Celsius) every year,” said Le Van Ha, 40, who blames the felling of trees in the area for making temperatures more extreme.

Working under a pitch-black night sky, these Vietnamese farmers slogged in paddy fields on the outskirts of the capital Hanoi, using head lamps to illuminate the water-logged ground in front of them.

Even though working at night has slashed productivity, Ha says they can keep working much longer by avoiding the heat. He now gets up at 2am to avoid having to cope with stifling daytime conditions.

Another farmer, Thai Hong Ngoc, 50, said planting at night meant that far fewer rice plants wither due to the extreme heat and is grateful that they now have machinery to use for harvesting. “If I had to manually harvest crops like before, surely I would just leave it. It’s just too hot.”

An official at Vietnam’s National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said many parts of the country were suffering new heat waves this year, though temperatures so far were below last year’s record highs.

While current temperatures in northern and central parts of Vietnam ranged between 35 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius, Vietnam reportedly experienced its highest temperature on record last year at 43.4 degrees Celsius in Ha Tinh province in central Vietnam.

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