The whole family, the whole village eats the mountains and sleeps in the fields for a month, picking coffee to earn Tet

For every coffee crop, people in the Southeast districts of Gia Lai and neighboring provinces cross the mountain to pick coffee for hire. They live temporarily in a farmhouse, eating frugally to save money when the New Year is approaching.

The districts of Ia Grai, Chu Prong, Duc Co, and Chu Pah (Gia Lai) enter the coffee harvest season in mid-November every year. This is also the time when gardeners are “thirsty” for workers.

In recent years, gardeners in Gia Lai have actively contacted idle labor sources in the southeastern districts of the province and neighboring provinces such as Phu Yen and Quang Ngai.

The whole family, the whole village eats mountains and sleeps in the fields for a month, picking coffee to earn Tet - 1
In November every year, the flow of people from neighboring districts and provinces goes uphill to collect coffee (Photo Pham Hoang).

Coffee pickers from all over the world come to Gia Lai to make a living usually in groups of 7-10 people, usually, neighbors and relatives, bringing their personal belongings, from clothes, blankets, and dishes… and build a field hut, live right in the rented garden house.

This year’s coffee crop, Mr. Le Van Long (Ayun Pa town, Gia Lai) invited 5 other people who are relatives and neighbors to Ia Grai district to collect coffee. The garden house has arranged for 6 people to live in the same 40m2 stilt hut. Wages are paid according to productivity, at the rate of 100,000 VND($4)/quintal.

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Wages are paid according to productivity, at VND 100,000 ($4)/quintal (Photo: Pham Hoang).

In the early morning, in the shack, women cook rice, men prepare canvas to collect coffee. 5:30 am, a working day has begun.

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Mr. Long invited 5 people who are neighbors and relatives to come to the Ia Grai district to collect coffee (Photo: Pham Hoang).

Mr. Long said, wages are calculated according to the yield, so the group also took advantage of going to work early and leaving late. On average, each coffee picker earns about 500,000 VND ($20) /person/day.

This year, the wages increased by several tens of thousands of dong per quintal of coffee collected, but the cost of fuel, food and drink also “teams” the price.

“In the early days of harvesting, my hands were burned and burned from plucking coffee. My shoulders were bruised from carrying coffee. Gradually, my hands were also calloused, no longer feeling pain. To save money, we split up to sleep in the morning. This season, the wind is strong, so everyone brings more warm clothes to sleep. Life is poor, but because of difficult circumstances , everyone works hard to do business,” Mr. Long confided.

Leaving his 2-year-old daughter in the care of his grandmother, Mr. Ksor Sai (25 years old, from Ayun Pa town) and his wife, Nay Hieng, went to Ia Grai district to collect coffee.

Ms. Nay Hieng confided: “The people in the lowland districts this season have finished the rice crop, so they are idle and invite each other to pick coffee. Each coffee crop lasts 30-35 days, the couple collects about 25 -28 million dong. Husband and wife tighten their spending to save money to take care of their family and the approaching Tet holiday.

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Each coffee season, Mr. Sai and Ms. Hieng also collect about 25 million (Photo: Pham Hoang).

In her hometown, Hieng and her husband have 2 poles of rice and a few fields of noodles. Because the land is barren, life is difficult. All hopes for a full Tet are expected from this coffee collection fee.

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Temporary lunch of coffee collectors (Photo: Pham Hoang).

When the sun stood still, the group of Mr. Long and Ms. Hieng stopped and took a break for lunch. Under the roof of the makeshift hut, the group opened a pot of rice cooked in the morning, already cooled down, and ate it with a few dried fish to pass the meal. Even though the meal was meager, it was still warm, the voices laughed and laughed after a morning of hard work.

Photo: Internet (vinlove.net)