Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some observations of the ongoing paddy harvest

In the past few days I have been busy harvesting my rice paddies. In one property, we used a Combine Harvester to do the work. The downside of the process is that the paddy that is bagged still has fresh cut paddy however dry it is when cutting. This means that a further period of a days drying in intense sunlight, as a minimum is required before bagging for storage.

Once cut the paddy bags are strewn along the fields by the harvester. I therefore had to take my pick up truck right into the fields to collect all the paddy bags.
Once I off loaded them in one central area, I had to request some space in a mill which I use to mill my paddy to dry on their large cement area which they too use to dry parboiled paddy. Carrying 90 bags of paddy in three trips in my pick-up hauling them and spreading them around the cement floor to dry and later scooping it back up is a tiring and time consuming job. How tiring it was the reader could only imagine. One has to constantly use one’s feet to move the drying paddy from side to side to ensure the paddy gets dry. Wet paddy can have a disastrous effect on the quality as it could actually spoil.
I spoke to farmers who do not like to use the Harvester because of this even though they may have to incur higher costs of cutting by hand and using the Tsunami threshing methods to solve their harvesting. In fact that is exactly the process I am doing in the adjoining property to Harvest because the Combine Harvester cannot work those fields as it would get stuck in the permanently waterlogged fields.

In this process of cutting by hand, once cut the sheaves have a day or two to dry out and so once the Tsunami is used to thresh, they can be bagged directly from the Tsunami and stored safely. Some also say that the harvester bags too much debris which calls for costly cleaning which is easily done by the large mills, once they get cheap paddy quoting the fact that the paddy needs drying and cleaning, which results in the low balling in price to the farmer at the farm gate. An added problem for many farmers in Polonnaruwa this season was the swarm of some insect that devastated the crop, which could not be salvaged by any type of crop spraying.

The state offers to buy paddy, but to meet the standards required, farmers have to go through hoops to get these promised amounts. The drying and cleaning are the two single biggest problems. It is important therefore that some kind of mechanized means is developed to ensure all this drying can be done cost effectively. There is no reason then to use the expensive manual labor to do this work.

The paddy bags filled after drying waiting for carrying and transport

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