Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It seemed like an eternity but it was worth the wait

I had my paddy fields cut and threshed by a combine harvester a few days ago, for the first time. In the short space of a couple of years that I have been growing rice paddies I have seen a dramatic shift in the way we harvest, as in each of the 5 seasons, I have used different methods to have my paddy fields cut and threshed, with the most sophisticated being this time.

The combine harvester arrived later than promised, pulled along by a tractor on a specially built trailer. It then gets down from the trailer and makes its way into each field and even to small fields and completely clears the field, leaving little wasted paddy on the ground, something that is quite common when cutting very dry paddy by hand. The straw is just returned to the field from which it was cut and we just plough it back in for the next season to maximize on the fertilizer properties of the land, rather than those threshing machines that stack the straw in large mounds sometimes to be burnt for want of a better alternative.

I then drove my pick up into the fields to collect the 90 bags of paddy and then take it to be dried on a large cement floor at my neighborhood mill. That latter fact is the only hitch as paddy needs to be completely dry if a combine is used, as otherwise they cannot be stored for long. These are things I learn as I go along.

Another season complete and we just have to go through all the bureaucracy of forced sales to the state of 100kg of paddy per half acre in order that we get the fertilizer subsidy, another form of jobs for the boys and daylight robbery of the farmer as he can sell his paddy at a higher price in the open market. The state should only intervene when there is need for price stabilization, not to discourage paddy farming. As a rule most things that the government gets involved in leads to corruption and this is a case where the fox is guarding the hen house, with the largest millers being the two ministers of agriculture who stand to benefit, as they can use the state to effectively at state expense to store the paddy that market share determines that they will eventually buy, at a profit or loss to the state.

I wish I was so lucky that the state would buy and store the stock of paddy I need to feed my mill, and I only buy it when I need it knowing full well that I am the only one with the money to bid for it or have an inside track of what quality of paddy is stored and what type as well, so I can create pricing decisions knowing the supply bottlenecks, as the general public will not be privy to such information.


George said...

Combine harvesters in our paddy fields! And they appear to be doing an efficient job. With the high cost of labor, mechanization appears to be the only option.

Nice photos of the fields, the harvester, and the sacks of paddy.

Anonymous said...

How much rice did the harvest yield? How much income did the harvest yield compared to the amount of land you farmed?

Rajaratarala said...

I harvested 4500kg on 2.5 acres, and should do better. As I am the last in the water distribution, I frequently have little or no water, and have to resort to pumping. Compared to the history of this particular property, I probably get more than any farmer has so far on this particular marginal land.
I cannot give a value as I keep it and mill and sell to my customers over a period of a year, effectively yielding 3000 kg of rice. At todays whole sale price would be about Rs 150,000. Peanuts when compared to the time and effort.

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