Ly Son: where shallots grow in sand

By Ngoisao/Mr. True   August 20, 2016 | 03:49 pm PT
An island where the best things grow in sand rather than soil.

Ly Son is a volcanic island about 30 kilometers off the coast of the central province of Quang Ngai. The pillars of the economy here remain binary: tourism and agriculture. The former was introduced to the island only recently as a way to make to full use of its oceanic beauty: white sands, crystal clear waters and a life isolated from the manic day-today of the mainland. The latter, you got it right, is fishing. But that's not all. Ly Son farmers have done the seemingly impossible: growing garlic and shallots in sand instead of soil.

The island is renowned for both, and, creme de la creme, they yield a price tens of times higher than their mainland siblings. This time of the year is the end of shallot harvesting season, when farmers, basically every household on the island, are out in the fields pulling shallots and preparing the land for the next crop.


There are two shallot crops a year. August is the final one, after the first one in March.


A hectare is estimated to produce six tons of shallot, which are sold to merchants at VND20,000 ($1) per kilogram. These merchants then take the shallots to the mainland, dry and resell at a much higher price.


The produce is called “violet jade” thanks to the prosperity it has brought to the island’s households.


The harvesting season coincides with the children’s summer vacation. They are also also sent out to the fields to give their parents a hand.


Shallots grown in sand here are said to be sweeter and more aromatic. It’s a unique type of onionand the pride of Ly Son people. Besides being sold in bulk to merchants, shallots are also snapped up by visitors to the island.


After harvesting, the farmers immediately prepare the land and sand for the next crop.

There are a total of 130 hectares of shallot in Lyson, serving as a splendid panoramic scene looking from above with each field separated by a channel made of trees and bushes.

There are 130 hectares of shallots on Ly Son that provide a splendid panoramic scene from above, with each field separated by a row of trees and bushes.

Photos by Ngoisao/Luyen le Chi

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