Grasshoppers often congregate at Ha Tinh’s abandoned rice fields. Grasshopper catchers rely on bananas, bread and water for energy ahead of a strenuous chase.
Hunt grasshopper when the rice harvest ends in Ha Tinh Province:
As the rice harvest ends in Ha Tinh Province, dozens of farmers from neighboring Nghe An travel around 100 km to cash in on the grasshopper chase.
A grasshopper’s head is triangular, its whiskers short and thin, its belly sectioned, and hind legs bigger than the front. While adolescents are between one to two centimeter long, adults are a bit longer, between three to four centimeters. Grasshoppers often congregate at Ha Tinh’s abandoned rice fields after the winter-spring harvest, from June to August.
Since the beginning of June, dozens of locals from Quynh Luu District in Nghe An travel nearly 100 km by motorbike to rice fields in Xuan Linh and Xuan Hong communes of Nghi Xuan District in Ha Tinh Province to catch grasshoppers for at least three hours each day.
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At 8 a.m., a farmer uses a plastic net to lure grasshoppers. A net is typically 50 cm wide and 1.5 m long. The handle, which is about three meters long, is made of bamboo.
Hundreds of grasshoppers lie at the bottom of the net.
Every 10 minutes, farmers transfer caught grasshoppers to a netted bag.
Grasshopper catchers rely on bananas, bread and water for energy ahead of a strenuous chase.
Nguyen Thi Hoa, 47, a resident of Quynh Luu Commune, said it takes about two hours each day to drive from Nghe An to Ha Tinh where she works six hours a day to catch about three kilograms of grasshoppers.
Young grasshoppers are sold at VND250,000 ($11) per kilogram and brought to Da Nang to sell as bird food. Adults are often sold for VND150,000 per kilogram to local restaurants. “I collect between VND300,000 and 500,000 ($13-22) a day,” Hoa said.
After five hours working, Nguyen Van Sang, 60, a resident of Quynh Luu District, takes a break in the middle of a rice field.
“Our family earns a moderate income from farming, so when the rice harvest ends, my wife and I often go to neighboring provinces like Ha Tinh and Thanh Hoa to catch grasshoppers to earn extra in our free time. Since the beginning of the season, we have earned over VND5 million ($216) so far,” said Sang.
Because of the 40 degrees Celsius heat, hunters soak nets holding harvested grasshoppers under water for about two minutes to prevent them drying.
Around 11 a.m., farmers call it a day. They typically work at one rice field for about three to five days, before moving on to other areas.
Each net containing caught grasshoppers are neatly arranged for subsequent sale.
Grasshopper season in Ha Tinh lasts from June to August. After, farmers return to their usual routine planting summer-autumn crops.