ĐỒNG THÁP — Bà Đài Village’s wooden boat industry was recognised in 2015 as an important cultural heritage of Việt Nam, but now the 100-year-old tradition is under threat from a double whammy of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its heyday, the village had over 150 households and business establishments in the boat building business, creating jobs for more than 1,000 workers.
Traditionally local boat makers built the Xuồng Cui boats, a type of small wooden boats used to travel and catch fish in canals in the Củu Long Delta region.
More recently they have diversified their production to supply customers in neighbouring provinces of Cần Thơ, An Giang, Kiên Giang and Vĩnh Long with different kinds of boats. These boats are in particular demand during the flood season between July to October of the Lunar calendar.
However, in recent years the floodwater from upstream has been low and late, leading to a fall in demand. This is forcing many households and business establishments away from traditional boating jobs.
This year the village only had 80 households and establishments that continue traditional boat production.
Võ Văn Bé Mười, who has 35 years of experience making wooden boats, said: "In the past, the flood water brought an abundance of fish and shrimps. Bà Đài wooden boats were the first choice for fishing in canals."
"To meet the needs of customers, we had to work even in the evenings. The village was always crowded and busy, all day," Mười said.
"Gradually, the market shrank. The wooden boats had to compete with composite boats. Although I was very sad, I had to quit my family job,” he said.
This year, after nearly three months of social distancing and pandemic control measures, only about 20 boatbuilding households came back to production.
However, problems in production and consumption persist. Trần Thị Bé Năm, an owner of a boat building workshop, said that this year's consumption dropped by 70 per cent against last year.
"Since the beginning of the flood season, I had only received orders of 100 boats from Bến Tre Province but so far I was not able to deliver the boats to the customers because of the COVID-19 pandemic," Bé said.
Accessing raw materials is proving difficult as restricted travel between provinces is leading to a shortage of timber.
According to local boat makers, the price of Bà Đài boats has not changed for many years.
The price of a 1-1.4m wide boat ranges from VNĐ1.3 million to VNĐ2.1 million (US$57-92). At this price, the seller’s profit is less than VNĐ100,000 (US$4.4) for a boat.
Due to low floodwaters, COVID-19 restrictions and a lack of profitability, many traditional boat-makers are trying to diversify their appeal while preserving their traditional occupation. Some have begun producing produced miniature boats as souvenirs to sell in tourism sites, in the hopes tourists will be welcomed back soon. — VNS
- Migrant numbers have dropped slightly in Southland due to longer visa processing times
- Thai king is rowed down a river in a golden royal boat in procession of 52 barges as thousands watch final ritual of his coronation in Bangkok... and there's no sign of the concubine he sacked for 'disloyalty'
- Natasha Kaplinsky decided to 'conquer the fear' by returning to spot in Corfu where 'biblical' boat explosion one year ago nearly killed her family and left daughter, nine, with facial burns
- Watch ‘DIY in NYC,’ Short Film Highlighting the Challenges Underground Venues Face
- Ship me to Cornwall … a container stay on Bodmin Moor: review
- We the Fulani are no killers or trouble makers but the cheated tribe of Nigeria – Emir of Keffi
- Faces of the fallen: Four more Australians are confirmed dead in the White Island volcano tragedy - with the death toll still expected to rise beyond 16
- USFDA releases guidance to help generic drug makers copy complex ones
- Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robot arms and keychain-sized hard drives
- Digital transformation in 2019: Lessons learned the hard way
- Face-to-face with the Rohingya refugee crisis
- Labour got what they deserved for abandoning their traditional working class supporters
- CPS faces challenge over 'covert policy change' on rape cases
- 'Things happen and you can't go back to where you were': Samantha Cameron breaks her silence over the Brexit rift between the Camerons and Michael Gove and his family - but admits: 'Time is a great healer'
- Boris Johnson's Brexit ultimatum: Transition period WILL end in December 2020 as PM vows to set in it law to scupper EU delaying tactics – after posing with his 109 first-time MPs who won seat in Tory landslide
- Operation dump on Jeremy Corbyn: Red Len McLuskey and his friend Karie Murphy are accused of turning on leader in latest twist in hard Left's civil war to keep its grip on party
- Striking Gold: How Vegas became NHL’s best expansion team
- Boris Johnson Is Showing Western Politicians How to Win
- Read The Edge of the Shoal by Cynan Jones, winner of the BBC National short story award
- India's Himalayan apple farmers feel the heat
Traditional wooden boat makers face a hard time staying afloat have 856 words, post on vietnamnews.vn at October 15, 2021. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.