Vietnam leverages climate change to boost shrimp

(SOUNDBITE) TA THANH TUNG, SHRIMP FARM OWNER: "Before, when this whole area was still growing rice, people didn't have enough to eat. My family had to find extra work, such as hunting mice or gathering firewood in exchange for rice to eat. Ever since we converted to shrimp, we are much better off and life is easier."

Locator: Soc Trang Province, Vietnam

For years, Tung and his neighbors grew rice in the Mekong Delta region

Now, these fields are used to harvest shrimp

The shift was spurred by the effects of climate change

Rising seawaters have increased the amount of salt in the soil

making it harder for the rice to flourish


"We planted rice, but didn't harvest any rice. There was a time when the rice could still grow when the water was still fresh. But then the water became more and more salty each year, and when the water rose, salt water submerged our field. We worked the field but had no rice to eat. So we switched to raise shrimp on a large scale."

The Vietnamese government plans to double shrimp exports to $10 billion by 2025

But shrimp farming comes with its own environmental problems

(SOUNDBITE) (Vietnamese) PROFESSOR OF ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AT CAN THO UNIVERSITY, DUONG VAN NI, SAYING: "In the areas where farmers dug to make ponds for shrimps, they literally got rid of the upper-most layer of soil, with all the nutrients. Therefore, after shrimp farms, these places will become a desert with nothing left. Nothing can grow, not even grass. That is the cost to pay."

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