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Rice production in Vietnam in the Mekong and Red River deltas is important to the food supply in the country and national economy. Vietnam is one of world’s richest agricultural regions and is the second-largest exporter worldwide and the world's seventh-largest consumer of rice. The Mekong Delta is the heart of the rice producing region of the country where water, boats, houses and markets coexist to produce a generous harvest of rice. Vietnam's land area of 33 million ha has three ecosystems that dictate rice culture. These are the southern delta (with its Mekong Delta dominating rice coverage), the northern delta (the tropical monsoon area with cold winters) and the highlands of the north (with upland rice varieties). The most prominent irrigated rice system is the Mekong Delta. Rice is a staple of the national diet and is seen as a "gift from God". The Mekong River and its tributaries are crucial to rice production in Vietnam. A total of 12 provinces constitute the Mekong Delta, popularly known as the "Rice Bowl" of Vietnam, which contain some 17 million people and 80% of them are engaged in rice cultivation. The delta produced bountiful harvest of about 20 million tons in 2008, about a half of the country's total production. The rice bowl has assured food security to its population whose 75% of daily calories are met by rice, which is also the staple diet of nearly 50% of world's population of 6.7-billion people. Within the delta system dominated by rice, now the farming system also includes activities related to aquaculture, rearing of animals, cash crops and fruit trees. Under aquaculture fresh and saline water shrimp are raised within the paddy rice fields. As a further environmental zoning of the delta, mangrove forests are also developed. (via DBpedia)