Environmentalists warn that the bounty from intensive shrimp farming may be short-lived.
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With a flashy gold watch and a chunky matching ring, Tang Van Cuol looks a far cry from the average Vietnamese farmer as he slings back a shot of rice wine and boasts about his projected earnings.After years scratching a living growing rice and onions or farming ducks, the 54-year-old says his life was transformed in 2000 – by shrimp.Shrimp farmers say the financial rewards are too great to ignore."Now everything is developed, we have vehicles, roads, things have changed massively," he told AFP from his polished living room, where a flat-screen TV hangs over a wood furniture set.Even in a bad year, he can earn more than he did as a rice farmer. In parallel, export earnings from rice have steadily declined since 2011, bringing in $2.2 billion last year.In some areas, the government is now urging farmers to grow rice half the year and harvest shrimp for the other half – a hard sell to farmers like Thach Ngoc Cuong who are eager to abandon rice.
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