Farmers less enamoured of snow than tourists in Sa Pa

By Thanh Nien Staff, Thanh Nien News

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A farmer in Lao Cai Province in his vegetable garden which has been covered in snow January 24. Photo: Tran Ho A farmer in Lao Cai Province in his vegetable garden which has been covered in snow January 24. Photo: Tran Ho

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Thousands of tourists are visiting the northern highlands to enjoy the rare snowfall that started Sunday, but locals are not so thrilled with the weather.
Many of them poor and struggling to keep themselves warm and watching their fields covered in frost, locals wish the snow had not come.
Ha Thi Thu Hien, a kindergarten teacher in Y Ty Commune of Lao Cai Province’s Bat Xat District, around 100 kilometers to the northwest of Sa Pa, said snow can be an exciting thing for people in the plains.
“To people here, it means fighting the deadly cold.”
Most locals are poor and their children usually have to wait for warm clothes from donors since their parents cannot afford them.
Students in Lao Cai receive warm clothes from donors to survive the cold of -4.2 degrees January 24. Photo: Phan Hau
Nguyen Xuan Manh, a commune border guard officer, said all vegetables grown in the area would die if snow falls for a third day.
“Many people had expected to sell some vegetables to raise money for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday. It looks like they cannot now.”
The cold could also kill the farmers’ precious cattle, he added.
Farmers in Sa Pa District, where the temperature dropped to minus 4.2 degrees Celsius on Sunday afternoon, said snow is falling at “a sensitive” time.
Many hope to sell vegetables grown on hundreds of hectares and chickens and buffaloes for Tet, the country’s most important festival, which comes in two weeks’ time.
But according to official statistics, snow has caused losses of more than VND2.3 billion ($103,500) to the district’s farmers after affecting more than 170 hectares of vegetable fields and killing five calves.
A man uses a warmer moment to let his buffalo walk around to lower the chances of it dying from numb feet. Photo: Tran Ho
Dinh Viet Phuong, a vegetable farmer, estimated his loss at at least VND50 million (US2,250) since his vegetable garden is buried under snow and has little chance of survival.
“We’ve lost Tet.”
The cold snap in northern Vietnam is considered the worst in decades, bringing snow even to Ba Vi mountain near Hanoi, which is a mere 1,281 meters (4,200 feet) tall.
Hanoi also had its coldest day since 1977 Sunday with some places seeing the temperature go down to 5.4 degrees.
The Vietnamese capital just had its hottest summer in more than 40 years, with temperatures rising to 40.3 degrees.
Le Thanh Hai, deputy director of the national weather forecast center, told news website VnExpress that the weather is changing in an “extreme” manner due to climate change.

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