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.