Festive spirit on Khanh Hoa spring onion farm

By Xuan Ngoc   January 28, 2021 | 03:53 pm GMT+7
In Cam Lam District of Khanh Hoa Province, farmers are working full throttle to harvest spring onions essential for a traditional Tet menu.
Festive spirit in Khanh Hoa’s spring onion farm

Khanh Hoa has an area of 120 hectares under cu kieu (Allium chinense or Chinese onion) cultivation, of which 90 hectares belong to Cam Lam District.
A few weeks before Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday that peaks on Feb. 12 this year, farmers in Cam Hiep Nam Ward in Cam Lam District prepare to harvest 20 hectares of cu kieu, a type of spring onion, destined for the market. For many Vietnamese families, a Tet feast would be incomplete without pickled spring onions.
Pickled spring onions are especially yearned for during Tet since they complement banh chung (glutinous rice cakes) or thit kho tau (caramelized pork) due to mild acidity and crunchy texture.

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Cu kieu growing season starts from the sixth to 12th lunar month. The crop requires careful cultivation to make sure the bulbs are all of the same decent size. When the leaf tops begin to yellow, farmers start to harvest.
Nguyen Van Toan, 49, hired 20 seasonal workers to help out on his 5,000-square-meter farm this year. He said the crop this year witnessed a slight decrease in output because of weather conditions and that he was selling at VND30,000 ($1.3) per kilogram.

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Workers prefer to wear gloves, boots, hats and glasses to avoid the sunshine and eye irritation caused by spring onion spray.

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The spring onions are pulled from the ground before their leaves are trimmed off with a sickle. The task itself is simple but one needs to work hard and fast to finish in time.

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Le Ngoc Linh, 32 (wearing a helmet), accidently cut himself with a sickle. Linh normally works in construction but now has more spare time and wants to earn some money for Tet.
"Just a typical newbie accident, luckily it’s not serious," he said.

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The spring onions are distributed to wholesalers and locals. Several people come here to buy fresh cu kieu to make pickled dishes for the Tet feast.

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Le Thi Ty, 47, eats banh chung for breakfast after finishing one row of spring onions. Work starts from 5:30 to 10:30 a.m. She earns VND1,200 ($0.1) per kilogram of onions, and an average of VND170,000-180,000 ($7.4-7.8) each day. Harvest season lasts around 20 days.

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Nguyen Van Tuan, 45, carries a sack of cu kieu to a collection spot on the farm to get rinsed with water later. He earns VND300,000 a day.

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It is difficult for trucks to get to the farm so workers have to rely on cattle to carry the sacks to the cleaning area 300 meters away.

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Spring onions covered in soil are rinsed off in a ditch before collection by wholesalers.

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Nguyen Quoc Viet, 49, in Cam Hiep Nam shows off his robust cu kieu. This year, he works hard to save money for the next crop and support his son who is studying at university and his daughter at high school.

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A farm owner may harvest 400-500 kilograms of spring onions per day. The mound of cu kieu will soon disappear after wholesalers appear.

 
 
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