Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Maha Harvesting Paddy using the tractor driven thresher known as Tsunami
As previously documented I showed how I used a small Chinese built combine harvester to cut, thresh and bag the paddy from my property in Minneriya.
In this blog entry I show the other principal alternative used. My sister’s property adjoining mine has fields that are water retaining, under current conditions the harvester will get stuck in the mud.
We therefore have no option but to hand cut the paddy and then transport it to a point from where the thresher is used to separate the straw from the paddy using a machine colloquially known as the tsunami.
A viper (polonga) was seen while collecting the cut the paddy, so had to be killed.
We had a serious problem in finding labor to cut paddy, as there are just no people willing to work in Polonnaruwa. There are people who come from outside called mattayas( I don’t know why they are called that) who take a contract for the property to cut and bring the paddy to a specific point. The usual charge is Rs8000 an acre but in this case due to some fields where one’s legs get stuck in the mud slowing the process, they charge a higher amount.
In my desperation, I had to pay Rs700 a day and find people to cut this paddy, and due to the labor problem my cutting got seriously delayed. If one cannot cut the paddy by a certain date, the stalks can dry out too much. It is called “pahi karawela” which is what happened to me. So when I mill my paddy, the grain breaks up pretty badly, making it difficult for me to sell the rice. The only partial solution for me is to have the paddy parboiled, and then mill it as the parboiled paddy does not break up like the way the kekulu does. The rice in this field was white Pokuru Samba, the 4 month variety.
A further fact was that when it is too dry, many paddy seeds fall on the ground in the cutting process, and also as much of the area had fallen paddy contributing to a further loss of the harvest. Accordingly I suffered a considerable loss due to the delay in being able to cut the paddy.
The one advantage of cutting by hand is that the stalks dry out, and after threshing the paddy can be stored directly without drying. In the case of a harvester, one has to dry the paddy as can be seen in an earlier blog, before sale or storage.
The thresher charge is at the rate of Rs3,600 per hour and in my case there were 42 bags that took 70 minutes to thresh costing Rs4,200, making the threshing charge the equivalent of Rs100 a bag that weighed approximately 50kg each.
On balance it is more economical to use the harvester as it can work day or night and usually have your paddy cut when needed. I will in future have to do what is necessary to drain the water from the fields and reduce the wetness in order to use the harvester.
the parade of paddy bags to be sewn up prior to loading
the final act is to load the paddy bags onto my pick up to take to my place to be stored for milling and delivery to my customers of fresh rice.