Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"we are still transplanting by hand" where are the alternatives?

We sowed one set of paddy fields on Poya, December 1st, and within minutes of sowing the rains came after a lapse of 11 days without rain. What it did was to move the sown seedlings in some areas either to wash away with the water, or displace them. Fortunately we took the precaution of also sowing a nursery for this eventuality.

Therefore on December 20th two of the local women came to transplant the empty patches. They first remove the nursery plants into bunches and get that ready. That is what is being done in the photos here taken on that day. They then transplant this into fields where there is heavy wash off of seedlings. Once that is done, they transplant the balance into lighter areas where there are few plants. There are also places where due to the rain areas near the drainage points of fields have a thicker density of plants due to the run-off. Here the paddy plants need to be thinned and excess plants planted in areas of less density.

It should also be noted that it is easier to replant if the fields are sodden, as fingers are used to press the plant into the soil in transplanting and is obviously harder to do this when the surface is hard.

These women get a daily wage of Rs600, we provide morning tea with a bun and afternoon tea. They go home for lunch. The working hours are from 8am to 5pm with an hour for lunch and two 15 minute tea breaks during the day. The unfortunate thing is that this labor is scarce, and so the work is not on productivity basis, and the rate is the same whether worker is twice as fast or twice as slow!! As this is a day or two's work, it cannot be incentive based like a contract to transplant an area.

Further they are not reliable, as they did not come the following day, but came on the day after that. This means it is difficult to rely on expediting the work. So machines your time is now so we can rely less on an increasingly more unproductive workforce who believe they are doing us a favor in an ever increasing wage scenario.

The sooner we can replace manual labor the lower will be our costs of production.


Anonymous said...

but when mechanized what will happen to the workers' welfare?

in a 'socialist' democratic republic like SL will this ever be possible?

Anonymous said...

there will ne no workers, actually there are no workers these days. If only you knew how hard it was to find these ones. That is part of the reason the rates are so high

Anonymous said...

Edathiparambil Vareed Thomas Development of a mechanism for transplanting rice seedlings. Mechanism and Machine Theory
Volume 37, Issue 4, April 2002, Pages 395-410

Department of Agricultural & Food Engineering, IIT, Kharagpur 721092, India


Transplanting of seedlings is a labor intensive operation in the cultivation of rice. It is also a skilled job and involves working with a stooping posture in a puddled field. There exists a need to mechanize this operation. For this purpose the design of a mechanism was carried out following the method of analytical synthesis. A planar four-bar linkage with coupler extension was selected as the basic design. The path generated by the mechanism was plotted on a computer screen. By varying the dimensions of various links in the mechanism different paths of output motion of the coupler point were obtained. The potential link dimensions were identified based on the suitability of the path for picking, conveying and planting of seedlings as well as the return motion. A four-row self-propelled transplanter using the above mechanism and an optimized-planting finger was then developed and tested. The machine transplanting system was found to be technically viable.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing somewhere a manually operated planting machine. It duplicates the work of these females, and is operated by a single person. It also puts an end to the back breaking posture needed when hand transplanting the plants