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Under the scorching sun in the peak of the dry season in the south, hundreds of farmers work unstoppable to harvest tobacco leaves from a field in Hoc Mon District, an suburban district of Saigon. Most of them are from the Mekong Delta who come here to earn an extra income from the tobacco crop that usually lasts for three months.

Under the scorching sun in the peak of the dry season, hundreds of farmers work non-stop to harvest tobacco leaves from a field in Hoc Mon District on the outskirts of Saigon. Most of them are from the Mekong Delta and come to earn extra income from the tobacco crop, which usually lasts for three months.

Giau says she is paid VND130,000 ($6) per day for picking tobacco leaves.

Giau said she is paid VND130,000 ($6) per day for picking tobacco leaves.

Giau says she is paid VND130,000 ($6) per day for picking tobacco leaves.

“I’ve been here for more than three months for the crop. I get VND6.5 million ($285) each month for watering and weeding the farms and loading leaves,” Teo, 53, said.

Ive been here for more than three months for the crop. I get VND6.5 million each month for watering and weeding the farms and loading leaves, Teo, 53, said.

Nguyen Van Phuoc takes a rest. “It’s too hot these days and I often get tired.”

Nguyen Van Phuoc takes a rest. Its too hot these days so I usually feel tired.

Farmers remove the stalks before bundling the leaves together. Nguyen Thi Thuy says this step takes time and requires skillful hands so her salary is a bit higher than most, at VND210,000 ($9.21) per day.

Bundles of tobacco leaves are kept inside the camp for one-two days.

Bundles of tobacco leaves are kept under a canopy for one or two days.

It is quite a process to make tobacco. The brewed bundles will be cut into threads and the worker has to have certain experience to make the threads thin and in the same size. One worker can produce 300-400 kilos of threads per night, said Tran Van Duc, who has been doing this job for over 40 years.

“It is quite a process to make tobacco. The bundles are cut into strands and workers need experience to cut them the same size. One worker can produce 300-400 kilos per night,” said Tran Van Duc, who has been doing the job for over 40 years.

[The cutting step must be done at night so that farmers can  expose tobacco to night dew before drying it under the sun the next  morning. They have to take turn to watch over the tobacco at night in  case the rain comes in sudden.

The cutting stage must be done at night so that farmers can expose the tobacco to the night dew before drying it under the sun the next morning. They have to take turns to watch over the tobacco at night in case the rain comes.

The qualified tobacco threads should be soft, curly, has a dark yellow shade and the particular smell of tobacco, says Tai, who has made tobacco for more than 10 years on Hoc Mon.

“The tobacco should be soft, curly, have a dark yellow shade and the particular smell of tobacco,” said Tai, who has been growing tobacco for more than 10 years in Hoc Mon.

Tobacco threads are pressed into package on bamboo frames when drying.

Tobacco is pressed onto bamboo frames to dry.

After three nights and three days under night dew and direct sun, the tobacco is ready for sale. The current market price is VND400,000-500,000 per kilo. The tobacco will be distributed around the southern region and even go to the north, said Thanh, an owner of a farm.

After three days and nights in the sun and dew, the tobacco is ready for sale. “The current market price is VND400,000-500,000 per kilo. The tobacco will be distributed around the southern region, and maybe even up north,” said Thanh, a farm owner.

Nguồn: e.vnexpress.net