The district boasts one of the largest lotus growing areas in northern Vietnam. Working of lotus seeds takes place for about 60 days, and it has to be done no matter what the weather conditions.
Flowers gone, it’s time to harvest lotus seeds in Ha Nam Province:
June is a busy month for many farmers of Duy Tien District, Ha Nam Province. Flowers gone, it’s time to harvest lotus seeds.
The district boasts one of the largest lotus growing areas in northern Vietnam. Communes like Chuyen Ngoai, Moc Nam and Moc Bac grow lotus on close to 30 hectares.
The harvesting of lotus seeds takes place for about 60 days, and it has to be done no matter what the weather conditions. The work starts early in the morning. Seeds harvested and carried to the edge of a field in Chuyen Ngoai Commune in a boat are collected by a trader in a sack.
Wading through a lotus field with plants rising well above her head, Nguyen Thi Thu, 38, harvests the seeds and collects them in plastic basket. Thu’s family grows lotus on 10 acres (36,000 square meters).
“It didn’t rain as much as it did last year, so the lotus seeds are not that big,” Thu said, adding that insufficient rain has also affected the field’s output.
It is when the lotus petals start falling that farmers prepare to harvest the seeds. Since the plants grow dense and tall, reaching as high as three meters, farmers have to be careful to mark directions, or they can get lost.
Pham Van Ngoc smiles, holding harvested seeds in cupped large lotus leaves. He said that in the commune, each family collects about 100 kg of seeds in the harvest season.
“If you hire people to collect them for you, it will cost you VND400,000 ($17) a person a day,” he said.
In areas where the water level is higher, boats are used instead of baskets or sacks to gather the lotus seeds.
Two farmers carry home harvested lotus seeds in sacks on a bicycle. At home they are peeled right away to keep the seeds’ freshness.
A sharp knife is used to separate lotus seeds from the pod. On average, a person separates nearly 40 kg of seeds per day.
The raw, unpeeled lotus seeds are usually bought by middlemen from the nearby province of Hung Yen who sell it to traders at the Pho Hien Market, also in Hung Yen.
After they are peeled, the lotuses are dried in the sun and packaged.
“In the north, only Hung Yen people specialize (make a living) in peeling the lotus seeds. Each kilogram of fresh lotus seeds after peeling and removing the plumule will lose 500 grams in weight,” said Nguyen Kim Lien, a distributor of lotus seeds.
“The finished fresh lotus seeds will have a whitish color. To preserve it for a long time, just wrap them up in paper and put it in the fridge to eat gradually,” she added.
After they are separated from the seeds, the lotus plumule are dried in the sun before being packed for sale. Prices for lotus plumule start at VND200,000 ($8.6) a kilo.
Herbalists say that lotus plumule (also called Lian Zi Xin) has a sedative effect and can be used to treat insomnia as well as the common cold.