For many years, Xuan Hoa street in the city of Tuyen Quang has been famous for sedge weaving, but recent economic hardship has caused the number of households continuing this practice to dwindle.

Elders in Tuyen Quang say Xuan Hoa used to be one of the city's most bustling streets when sedge weaving was popular, drawing people of all sorts from far-flung places.

Nowadays, there are only about 10 families in the area that still stick to the trade. Other households have already switched to selling other products due to the rising cost of materials and smaller output markets.

Seventy-three-year-old Tran Dinh Ta and his wife Vu Thi Tuyet have been weaving sedge for nearly 60 years. Despite their failing health, the couple must still rely on sedge weaving in order to generate income.

Ta said that Xuan Hoa used to be crowded with people selling and buying bamboo. On sunny days, the street seemed to be bathed in the colour of sedge as people put out their products to dry.

Ta said weaving sedge allowed him to raise seven children, but none of them has followed his footsteps and taken up the family business. In a normal season, he and his wife make only about 30,000 VND (1.5 USD) a day after subtracting the cost of materials. During the rainy season, that sum is even smaller.

Nguyen Van Tien, another resident of Xuan Hoa Street , said he and his friends used to work for a sedge weaving co-operative and often gather here to reminisce about the old days and weave sedge for fun. Tien said he appreciates this trade for supplying his livelihood and helping him raise four children. After nearly 50 years, he said he doesn't want to stop working.

Truong Van Thang, head of Tuyen Quang's economic department, said the city has been working to protect sedge weaving and other traditional crafts from falling into oblivion.

According to Thang, the city has finished zoning two areas designed specifically for the production of handicrafts and identifying areas with an abundant supply of bamboo. It has also begun working with the Tuyen Quang Province 's Agricultural Extension Centre to organise vocational training classes for rural labourers./.