A Rice Revolution - Part II Labour Companies for Cost Efficiency
By Ananda Ariyarathne
The process that demands extra care in the preparation of land for cultivation is the monitoring of water levels needed for rice which grows in water logged soil conditions. Thereafter, constant vigilance is needed to prevent harmful insects, stray cattle, wild animals and weeds from encroaching on the plants.
Right up to the time of harvest, threshing, winnowing, drying and storage, there needs to be adequate human resources.
Considering the anticipated food shortages in the future, the need for extra care that should be taken to rehabilitate and consolidate 'Rice Cultivation' is not something that can be postponed or ignored.
Cultivation in the past
In the past, all the paddy fields in a village were supervised by a Field Officer (Vel Vidhane) who coordinated all the manpower issues. Fields were usually situated in the lowest terrain of the village, marked by streams or rivulets which bordered the cultivated area by fairly wide bunds which were used by people as pathways. The streams did not dry up in any season and had crystal clear water with a variety of fish, some of which were popular and added flavour and protein to people's diet.
Traditionally, all able bodied men, including teenagers of families who owned paddy lands helped repair the small dams and dykes which marked rice terraces, by using new pieces of sods to fortify older surfaces by smoothening those surfaces so that they harden with exposure to the sun. This then allows the terraces to be filled with water diverted from the stream flowing by.
Normally on a terrace, it was not uncommon to see quite a number of able bodied farmers, in a row, using their hoes (mamoties) fitted to long wooden handles, to turn the thick sod upside down. Once the terrace gets filled with water and left for few days, all plant life dies and begins to rot. Then, the farmers would repeat the process in the adjoining terrace. That way, the labour needed for turning the soil could be achieved. The other method used to be the use of ploughs if draught animals are available. Such animals were a valuable part of resources and they also enriched the soil of the rice terraces after the harvest with cow dung and urine when they grazed.
A whole stretch of terraces could be made ready with the required labour becoming possible on the mutual help system that was practised. Next was the smoothening stage under which the entire terrace is muddied, aided by the presence of water all the time. This makes it more convenient in levelling the surface into smaller subsections, by carefully arranging long depressions leading to the lower end of the terrace. This process needs the water levels to be constant and equally distributed within a terrace. In the meantime, the seed paddy is prepared for sowing using the broadcasting system or transplanting.
A terrace cultivated under the 'broadcasting' system would give a lower yield compared to a 'transplanted' terrace for very scientific reasons. The second system prevents plants crowding while avoiding the possible loss of seed paddy becoming the food of the birds and it is more economical and provides ample space for plants to have more shoots from the base. In addition, it becomes easier to get rid of weeds that could choke the paddy. Up to this point, the requirement of labour is more.
Then, water management would become an easier task. The period that needs more attention starts with the rice plants maturing and it is quite normal to see the presence of insects that can destroy a whole crop by sucking out the kernels in liquid form, if left unattended. This is where chemical insecticides take over from cheap and eco friendly practices.
The traditional remedy is to prepare fly traps using gummed cloth flags held behind traditional mini-flares. Thick wicks of old cloth soaked in oil are lit when it is dark. The flies on the stalks of paddy are attracted by the lights and fly towards it, getting singed by the flames or stuck on the sticky flags positioned behind the flares. No chemical insecticides.
The Concept of Labour Companies (LC) or Labour Societies (LS) is the only logical answer. It becomes a blessing in disguise as it helps the so far neglected, inadequately educated youth and economically stranded, able bodied men and women who are not effectively employed but caught up in a ruthless market oriented economy.
The LCs or LSs offer opportunities for the unemployed to stand on their own two feet. This concept is the bridge provided for the meaningful utilization of the hidden potential of two realities which look negative at face value, namely 'labour shortage' and 'the unemployed'. By localizing both those negative realities, to a manageable size, it can become a workable project to be monitored by the already existing Government Line Agencies which play a 'Facilitators Role.'
It can be implemented on a Grama Niladhari Division (GND) basis with their offices having all the details required. Cost-wise it may prove to be that a Labour Cooperative Society is a better option. Such a 'co-operative society' can agree with land owners purely on a crop sharing basis. Although it is to be identified as the 'prime mover' in rehabilitating rice cultivation, the same society can be engaged in a variety of other activities that have been affected negatively due to the absence of labour. Rubber tapping, tea plucking, and market gardening are just a few such potential opportunities. Apart from such, some unutilized land may be made available for the establishment of 'Community Dairy Centres' (another feasible project that can be synchronized with LCs and can be included in a possible national master plan) to house up to fifty cows belonging to 'Dole Recipients.'
It is a project that can be implemented at the rate of a minimum of two community dairy centres for one GND. It can be supported by several poultry farm projects and the total revenue capacity can be for the benefit of the LC.
In view of the organic fertilizer requirements for rice cultivation, a value can be apportioned for it that can be produced to be used as inputs which can be charged to the cost of production of rice.
Although the organization looks very simple, the most crucial issue is the initial investment required for the commencement of such a production unit as it will require a minimum of Rs 1,000,000 – Rs 1,500,000 monthly to meet the salaries only and it would be approximately Rs 12 million to provide employment for fifty unemployed, for six months, taking the time that would be taken to convert the crop shares earned. For rice cultivation to generate revenue it would take at least five to six months.
However, it will not be that bad in other activities such as rubber tapping, tea plucking and cinnamon peeling. Poultry farming would also take at least six months while community dairy centres would take a longer time, those two activities will generate sufficient non monetary resources with input values, to support rice cultivation.
It shall be the responsibility of the Government and it is not the end of the road as there are enough ways to make it happen. The solution to solve the main problem of rice cultivation will spark a revolutionary process that would create enough opportunities qualifying itself to be identified a 'Rice Revolution'.
(To be continued as Part III on 19 October 2017)
- Trump gets it wrong again Asia tour unsuccessful
- Iranian leadership or hegemony? A response to Macron
- Robert Mugabe’s lucky break: he had Grace to act as lightning rod
- GoSL to utilize Rs 600M Indian housing grant
- Two CMC lifts grounded Urban Secy accused of negligence
- IUSF writes to MS and RW Offer SAITM students entry to State faculties
- Fracas at Alandurai SL Refugee Camp Four refugees stabbed
- Nobel Laureate Dr. Cardozo to visit North
- Policy forum on empowering women
- Tea exports up by 27%
- Petrol bomb hurled at SLTB bus
- Economic development in SL: ADB pledges US$ 4-5B for 2018-2022
- Malaka seeks relaxation of nightclub ban
- SL’s capital city should be in NCP Jayasekara
- Floods and landslides:Public response needs to improve DMC
- Anti-corruption drive Govt set to introduce National Action Plan
- JO requests EC to hold elections
- Modi assures Ranil India will supply tablet computers to Lankan students
- Bond scam probe SLFP CC seeks extension of PCoI
- Party leaders to discuss polls delay
- National flag row Sritharan, Harrison in fiery clash
- Regional drug intelligence centre to be set up Facilitated by UNODC
- No-faith motion against Faiszer
- Bangladesh War without end
- South Sudan Losing the last vestiges of moral fabric
- Minister demands stern action I requested SLR to suspend Kandy SC from ongoing league if they refuse - Dayasiri
- CH bring in freshers
- Chandimal wants Herath to come good India prepares fast green top pitches with S. Africa in mind
- Suspension of SLBA by BWF Minister should intervene to lift suspension
- ‘Singer Cup’ U-13 Division II Schools Cricket St. John’s record second win
- Kolonnawa Chess Classic Open C’ship
- Open Chess Championship in Kurunegala
- Lyon roars with run-out to slow England
- Barca, Chelsea reach last 16 as Man Utd lose
- Kelaniya Campus Women’s Elle team tour Malaysia
- Hamilton targets win in Abu Dhabi
- Ceylinco Life Sports Festival
- SLC explores possibility of recruiting Hathurusingha
- NOC in disarray as IOC intervenes NOC forced to further delay holding the AGM
- Ashes captains continue war of words on series eve
- Adithya qualifies for main draw of WTA circuit
- Kolkata comeback a ‘morale booster’ – Saha
- Dialog Champions league Colombo FC beat Navy SC
- National Snooker Championship Hunt begins today for the winner
- ‘Singer Cup’ U-13 Div.II (Second Round) Apeksha leads Joes to victory
- Directors and depositors up in arms
- DFCC Bank secures $30M from BlueOrchard
- CICT invests over $10M in Colombo Port
- BOC and PB studying legal implications
- Cinnamon, SriLankan offer Rs 20M wedding package
- ‘Spot’ strengthens by 15 cents
- Asian markets quiet after US Fed minutes
- Jetwing Surf Pottuvil to launch in December
- Dialog launches iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in Sri Lanka
- Banks’ Chief Internal Auditors appoint ExCo
- Zimbabwe needs immediate economic reforms, warns IMF
- Mobitel wins ‘Service Brand of the Year’ Gold
- Orion City Towers opened for bookings
- HR academic says sector builds people’s competence for work
- How AI is changing customer interaction
- Five ways to revive Zimbabwe’s economy
- What the analysts are saying
- Ms. Mein Schiff 01 at Colombo Port with 1,850 passengers
- ComBank & Hayleys Agri leasing promo supports farmers
- LAUGFS Health opens first stand-alone pharmacy
- LAW OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE Part XIX Joinder of Charges VIII
- Rice Revolution Role of Dairy Centres – Part II
- Pacific Islands:NZ considers visa for climate refugees
- Regulation of social media A desideratum to control fake news
- Global slavery About 40 million victims last year
- Princess Ameera’s allegations SLBFE to investigate Saudi Arabia out of bounds for employment for those under 25
- Friends like these
- Trade liberalization cycle Opening up the logistics and shipping sectors
- Geopolitics of Floating Bases And the New World Order
- China and Vietnam: Beyond Diplomacy
- JO has no deal with UNP - Lohan
- WignesWaran should resign – Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara
- Was the fuel crisis created to get rid of Arjuna ? IOC ship still off the seas of Trincomalee
- Eastern Provincial Council destroyed- Hafiz
- eLECTRIC AND HYBRID CARS MUST BE PRICED REASONABLY
- Tourists least concerned about liquor availability Reducing the price of beer a blunder! A gateway to all other drugs
- Plantar fasciitis That Intolerable Heel Ache
- An argument for a new Constitution
- PAST LIFE AND RULING PLANETS IN KRISHNAMURTHI PADHDHATHI
- Build before onset of Kona Masa
- Palms of road accident victims
- Want to get rid of malefic Saturn ?
- Installing doors and windows according to Vastu
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- CMSC’s season finale concert
- Two documentaries on Sri Lanka in Film South Asia 2017
- Politics of nostalgia
- Vibrancy of classical Sinhala poetry
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Conquering Fashion
- Gavin Ryan’s Salon Professionalism to the next level
- THE WRITER’S KITCHENETTE THE CRANBERRY ADVENTURES
- Calamitous Earthquake in Iran
- Scientists warn of ‘giant leap backward’ at climate talks
- Death of Ananda Senaratne