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)
- Bellanwila Chief Prelate’s Death Police await JSC report to probe Coroner’s complaint Samaraweera insists on immediate action
- UN’s Resident Coordinator Una McCauley no more
- EP Women LG membership hopefuls harassed
- Bank of Maldives soon in Colombo
- Male’s NCTC says 50 Maldivians in ISIS Two nabbed at BIA recently
- Having PC polls on PR system discussed
- Police arrest 2,500 in pre-dawn swoop
- Lanka ready to take in ‘failed’ asylum seekers
- Washington Must Rethink Policy on North Korea
- Commitments made to International community Government must be held accountable - Sampanthan
- Lankan worker in KSA named in employer’s will Rewarded for services 22 years later
- Chinese New Year from 1 to 4 March Independence Square Arcade lights up from 6 p.m. to 10p.m.
- SAITM u’grads write to President Pleased with enrolment to KDU
- Journalist Joe Seneviratne’s funeral today
- President scheduled to visit Delhi Will attend ISA conference and solar summit
- Hospital ship USNS Mercy arrives in Sri Lanka Humanitarian and disaster preparedness mission
- Diyatalawa bus explosion Army appoints CoI
- Divi Neguma case in June
- CIABOC driver nabbed with heroin
- SriLankan Unions form Alliance For sustainability
- Baby jumbo possession sans license Magistrate Gamage’s bail condition relaxed
- Drug lord D. Manju killed in shooting
- Amnesty Int’l charges SL backsliding on HR commitments
- Seeking release from Avant-Garde case Gota files revision petition
- Child porn on Whatsapp racket India’s CBI to write to SL
- Kandy SC hold edge over Navy SC
- Million rupee donation for PSJASL
- Sanadru scores 100 not out
- Four teams advance to quarters
- Australians in front against South Africa A
- Thurstan finish on top
- Sharma set to lead in Sri Lanka
- Christ King beat Loyola by 184 runs
- Kavindu, Shermila clocks fastest 200m times
- 1500 athletes participating
- Irfan, Sangakkara fashion Multan win
- Hundred men to cycle 445.9 Km
- FIFA trusts Russia for safe World Cup
- Tiafoe topples del Potro in Delray Beach
- League Starts today
- Wenger vows to attack Man City in final
- Kenya captain, coach and board president resign
- Aitken Spence regain archery crown
- D.S. Senanayake and Mahinda in final
- Cummins, Hazlewood in pace blitz
- SL apparel exports hit US$ 5B, highest ever Exports to EU increase by 27.2% after GSP+ reinstatement
- Hambantota Port takes quantum leap, expands services
- Coal imports hit US$ 261.5 million for 2017
- EasyHotel to raise £ 50M for budget hotel expansions
- Corruption Perception Index Sri Lanka improves 4 points to rank 91 Journalists continue to die for the truth in corrupt nations
- Government Securities Market NFOs top $61.39M
- South Asian Micro-Entrepreneurs to host microfinance conference
- Women earn up to 43% less at Barclays
- National Chamber one-day workshop ‘HR- Driving force in an organization’
- CIM Sri Lanka to host networking event for 2018
- NDB Wealth sponsors 2017 Sri Lanka National Junior Golf Ranking Awards
- Ceylinco General Insurance records excellent results in 2017
- HNB launches Gateway Student Savings Unit
- Nestlé delivers Rs 37.6 billion sales in 2017
- Commercial Bank ends 2017 on strong footing
- Sri Lanka Ports Authority records Rs 13B in Profit Before Tax for 2017
- COLOMBO CITY CENTRE BAGS ASIA’S BRANDS & LEADERS AWARDS 2017
- Renault celebrates 120 years
- Pumping fuel with NTB American Express and win iPhone X devices
- Softlogic Properties promotes Everest Apartments
- Concretes & Abstracts Shuffling the pack or packing the shuffle?
- Government legal Speaker
- CONSTITUTION ON REMOVAL OF PM
- Where there is no vision, there is no hope
- Pursuing Peace Subverting Government through foreign funding
- For women candidates Battle is far from over
- Who really understands their anguish as they cry out...Where are they? Office of Missing Persons is yet to be made operational
- Tree planting goes hi-tech with Thuru
- Komaali Kings Breathing life into Lankan Tamil cinema
- Creating rain where there is none Artificial rain generation to tackle droughts
- Yameen is ‘cleaning up’ decades of elite rule – Maldives Envoy
- Masses are more politically literate than politicians
- Gota is Lankan Putin – Gammanpila
- President and PM are responsible for the election results
- Basil says…Await the return of ‘Spiritual Leader’ MR
- Accomplice to the crime Our own indifference
- UK flower farm suspected of enslaving migrants
- Costly Renovation
- Planetary combinations that nullify Arishta yogas
- Saraswathie –Consort of Maha Brahma
- Autobiography: Lighthouse of the Impossible Beyond conditioned mind and world
- Kitchen should be properly planned
- 7th House foretells nature of marriage
- K. S. Sivakumaran’s On Films Seen
- Some recent impressions
- Bandula Nanayakkarawasam: From Galle to the world
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cowboy boots
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cow boy boots
- “Hail, Caesar!” Silliness as a virtue
- Notes on history: The thinkers and the doers
- Reflections on a nation of non-readers
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Anger in NE Nigeria over Boko Haram ‘abduction’ response
- Macerata, Italy’s reluctant immigration battleground
- How Dudley’s 30-day Govt got defeated