Friday, April 11, 2008
How to teach a farmer who thinks he knows all?
It is a very sad reflection of our society in 2008, when farmers are finally able to get their head above water, when they are still determined to drown, not taking advantage of the good fortune handed to them on a platter, in terms of a very real increase in the price offered them for their produce.
Taking my personal experience this year, with paddy farmers encircling me in my area here in Hingurakgoda, and Minneriya one of the initial farming schemes, where settlers were given land free (ten acres to begin with) by the government along with a guarantee of water to farm rice paddies.
My local farmers know that transplanting offers them a better yield, they refuse to do so blaming the high cost of labor to transplant not even knowing about the transplanters used elsewhere. Then they refuse to use a plough to turn the soil post harvest, as that is the quickest and best method of putting back the nutrients to increase yield. When the straw is turned over it breaks down fast and compost into the soil and the deep ploughing brings up the nutrients at the bottom back up to root level. They don’t consider it necessary and look on it as an added waste as the government provides enough water for them to flood the fields to drown the weeds just before sowing when it is too late for nutrients to help in the new planting.
The whole process of soil conditioning which even farmers in ancient times used to improve and sustain yields is not done either, finding it simpler to use subsidized fertilizer. Further once the paddy is harvested, they don’t have the ability to say if the paddy is dry enough for sale. In the case today when I took delivery of paddy from a farmer, he insisted it was dry, and when I with my limited knowledge took in to the drying floor in the mill and then weighed it after drying was able to prove that he was wrong, and that is the reason the traders do not give them market price, something they can get by drying a few bags at a time at home for only two hours in the sun.
These examples above both reduce yield based on same inputs, and also gives the farmer a lower income due to his lack of basic knowledge. I firmly believe that very small and elementary steps not resulting in much cost can increase yields by at least 50%, and the matter about drying paddy, what can I say except that they are bone lazy even if it means earning more money. This example is a sad reflection of our times where blame firmly lies with those who blame others for their ills.