Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash

By Quynh Tran   December 12, 2018 | 11:47 am GMT+7

The short-necked clam cannot be farmed, so limits are placed on how many kilos a person can dig up a day.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash

In the last months of the year, early in the morning as tide ebbs, residents of Thoi Thuan Commune (Binh Dai District, the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre), go to the beach to dig clams.

"Clam fields here are managed by the cooperative, which will distribute leaflets to about 40 local residents a day, giving them permission to dig clams," said Ngo Thanh Phong, a security guard.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 1

"Clams at the beach, which only grow naturally, are very difficult to raise commercially. This type of clam is large and has a purplish shell. The market price is about VND140,000 ($5.99) per kilogram, higher than that of the commonly seen white clam," said Phong.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 2

"Around mid-year until the Tet Lunar New Year holiday, people in the village start to dig these clams as they are growing in profusion. Every month, we only dig when the waters recede the deepest," said Can, who has nearly 10-year experience of clam digging.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 3

"I use a homemade rake and putting the clams into the net with a tong," said 30-year-old Kim Anh.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 4

Experienced residents say people should ideally work in pairs from both sides so that they can catch larger number of clams. 

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 5

"This species is not as concentrated as farm-raised clams, so it is possible to go a few rounds of digging without hitting a single one. Sometimes, we dug from early morning to noon but only got a few kilograms," said Trinh Van Tien, 30.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 6

Around 10 a.m, when the waters begin to rise the clam diggers leave the beach. The cooperative allows each person to dig a maximum of 30 kg a day to ensure that everyone gets a fair share and that the clam is not overexploited to extinction.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 7

Clam diggers in Thoi Thuan Commune usually work in a group. Pointing to her clam basket, a woman named Thoa said: "My three-member family is one group. This is what we got after raking from early in the morning."

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 8

Many people like Trinh Thi Anh Tuyet, 28, cover their face, arms and legs to protect themselves from the sunlight.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 9

Around 11am, the clam diggers gather in a dry area where their employers collect the clams and pay their wages.

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 10

"The cooperative pays VND25,000 ($1.07) for one kilo. Everyone digs up to 30 kilograms so we earn nearly a million dong ($42.77) a day. But this is just our side job. Our main job is growing watermelons," Tuyet said

Ben Tre farmers dig up clams for extra cash - 11

The clams are washed, sorted and transported to markets in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi as well as HCMC's neighboring provinces like Long An and Dong Nai.

 
 
go to top