Monday, September 1, 2008

rain and the vagaries of the weather pattern in 2008

Those of who have read the earlier piece, which due to my lack of access of the net was also posted at the same time, though over 3 weeks in writing, would find this ironic. I was then complaining of the lack of water, and my need to irrigate by pumping water to keep my rice paddies alive.

Now just at the point of harvesting I have had 6 days of rain, always starting between noon and 2 pm each day (ironically for those aware it was the day after the elections where the government received an overwhelming plebiscite of approval. While I am no doubt ruing my luck, one really has to appreciate the thousands of peasant farmers who habit these parts staring disaster in the face. For them two rice crops comprise a large part of their livelihood and this is the second time this year that the rains came while harvesting. (Earlier segments of the blog detail what happened)

I have been here in Minneriya this past week and all conversation is only about what we can do to salvage our crop. While I have not been in touch with news, I can only surmise that there has been very little said about it and so we have to battle the issue alone and suffer the consequences.

For those who are unaware of the real problems here are some of them. When it is time for harvesting and the rains come, it is prudent not to harvest till the rains cease. However when one finally harvests, the rice paddies are overripe and the price falls, as only the large mill owners benefit from buying overripe paddy which they can salvage along with wet paddy by parboiling and then milling parboiled rice. They offer a low price saying it is overripe or wet but suffer no price loss on sale as they have salvaged it in their mills where they have all the machinery for boiling in tons and drying in similar quantities.

Those who are in the midst of cutting, lose some of the harvest and have to dry the balance before being able to sell it, as the moisture content has to be below a certain percentage. It is hard to dry with the wet weather. Others like me have a lot of paddy that has fallen on to the ground due to the rain, and we have to salvage it once the rains cease by hand cutting as most cutting machines cannot work on fallen paddy. The large combine harvesters are capable of raising fallen paddy, but they can only be used in large fields unlike most of the farmers in this area. (for a related intellectual discussion on paddy farming see

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