It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Vietnam runs on rice. The humble grain is the country’s most important crop, and the major source of calories in the diet. Vietnam is the world’s second-largest rice exporter, after Thailand, a huge achievement for such a small country. Vast rice paddies blanket the nation, from the terraced highlands of the north to the fertile river valleys of the Mekong Delta. Rural people still work these verdant fields by hand, sowing, weeding and harvesting the grain according to nature’s schedule, in a cycle that defines their way of life.

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