Land preparation is done right, seeds are sown in time, transplanting is wrong. Then, all the right doesn’t make an impact at all. This is just one of the challenges that the Rice Contract Farm (RCF) is facing where most unwanted incidents are caused by failure of workers to do things right and lack of initiative. In SRI principle, root care is very crucial as it greatly dictates your produce. Early before the planting stage, planters (about 22 people) were told to slide the rice seedlings to form an L shape to position the roots for better growth instead of just sticking it in the soil. After repeated instruction with explanation, they still do the wrong thing. Some would follow but when the managers are away, they do otherwise. Palimbang is an area where the conventional method of farming is prevalent. Where farmers are used to plant two- three seedlings in a hill by sticking it in. SRI is the exact otherwise- new system that requires a conscious effort in protecting the roots by early transplanting, one seedling planting per hill, wide spacing, intermittent irrigation and weeding.
Other issues we experienced with people are:
Rice blast infection due to inconsistent monitoring of assigned farmer technician.
Lapses in agronomic monitoring because of sick trainee.
Spotted grains due to exposure of freshly harvested grains to rain overnight because of unfinished work of harvesters . Spots deteriorates the quality of rice and so with its selling price.
In this pilot, where the largest cut in operational cost goes to salaries and wages, we cannot afford to lower our expectation when it comes to worker behavior. Since we want to inculcate discipline among farmers, we need to push for it. How? Maybe by creating a corporate image where erring workers are subjected to disciplinary actions. Or maybe we can create a rewarding system where reporters of erring workers are paid. However, this may not work or worst, create strife among workers. Also, we cannot just pull out planters from everywhere. They should undergo a certification process where first, they are oriented then they are tested. I don’t if this will work but there must be a way to solve all this problem with people.