According to the author of Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell, Asians are typically better at math because rice farming is so much more labor and time intensive than all other forms of agriculture. While we don’t necessarily agree with the math side of his argument, we agree with the difficulty of rice farming.
Many of the Vietnamese Kiva borrowers are themselves rice farmers. In order to appreciate and gain a sense of what the life of a Vietnamese Kiva borrower is like, we, the two Kiva Fellows in Vietnam, took the opportunity to spend a day in a typical borrower’s shoes, or lack thereof.
After spending two hours literally in the field bending over in the baking sun and in ankle deep mud and water, we realized that we had not become experts in rice farming techniques. To make this point clear, we couldn’t even tell the difference between the weeds we were supposedly looking for and the actual rice; the grass had evolved to look almost exactly like the rice! This is just one of the difficulties that the farmers face everyday in the field. (We haven’t even mentioned the exact science of fertilizing and watering let alone the creepy crawlies everywhere)
For us, we could barely comprehend the effort it takes for the farmers to simply put rice on their own tables, let alone the fact that the borrowers have other job duties as well. To supplement their own income, many of the farmers take up Kiva loans to run micro-enterprises such as selling fruit and vegetables at market or raising and selling animals. Simply put, being a Vietnamese farmer isn’t as clean-cut as one may think, and we found this out the hard way…
Bernice and Nate, Kiva Fellows IN the Field
Please continue on to Kiva Fellows IN the Field – Part 2/>