The Cycle of activities in Rice Cultivation

Rice cultivation in Kumarakom, though economically viable, is not easy. There is a cycle of activities that begins with the removal of aquatic weeds from the rice fields. Another essential initial preparation is the construction or repair of outer bunds for the fields. As farming is done below the sea level, such bunds are necessary for dewatering.

Dewatering of fields occur in the next stage. The dewatering of the polders is usually entrusted to a contractor, selected through an auctioning process. While the process takes only one or two weeks for small polders, it takes almost a month for bigger polders. The dewatering offers fishing opportunities to fishermen who string nets across the fields. After the dewatering, the field is allowed to dry.

When the drying occurs, there is another outbreak of weeds. In order to destroy the weeds, weedicides are applied and water is then pumped into the fields. Once again, the fields are dewatered. This is followed by the polder preparation which includes levelling of the land using tillers. Meanwhile, the polder committees gather the seeds and tie them in sacks tightly. These are kept in water for a day and then kept outside to allow germination.

Water is pumped into the levelled polders and the sprouted seeds are sowed in the water. The germinated seeds are allowed to grow after dewatering again. The process of irrigation is carried out again for letting the weeds decay, which is followed by another dewatering session. Gap filling, application of fertilizers three times with an interval of 15 days in between, frequent irrigation and dewatering activities are carried out in the polders. If there is a pest attack, pesticides will also be used by the farmers.

All these laborious tasks are rewarded when the paddy is ready for harvesting after about 120 days. There are two final tasks left – threshing (mostly done by women workers of the farm) and winnowing (by the winnowing machine) - after which the crop will be ready for sale.

  Collective Ventures for Rice Cultivation



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