Last month was the peak of harvest for many farmers in Kanipaan, Palimbang including our 5.5 hectares land in RCF. We experienced delay in harvesting and threshing because there is shortage of harvesters.
One time, we tried to hire harvesters from neighboring villages but we spent an extra cost for fetching them, meals, accommodation. After that, there were no harvesters anymore. Out of no choice, we harvested our own with the help of some PASALI youth volunteers who also have no experience in harvesting.
In the following harvests, the volunteers got busy with threshing works. This time, only three people harvested a hectare. It took them 3 days to finish a hectare. Some harvester demanded more than the regular payment which is 1 sack for every 14 sacks. Normally, it takes 12 expert harvester to finish a hectare in one day.
During the harvesting, the laborers cut the rice’ panicle(one with the grains) and hang it above the remaining stem. The practice of Palimbang farmers is, they will not tie the cut panicles into a bundle until they finished cutting a whole hectare.
As a result, the ungathered cut Palay are left uncovered in the open field. During heavy rainy nights, the soil gets muddy and so is the Palay when it falls to the ground. Hence, the quality is affected since wet rice turns spotted and is trade off into low price.
Also, by the third day that harvesting is finished, the Palay are already so ripe. When laborers gather to tie them up into a bundle, many seeds already fall into the ground and this is why great is the wastage in manual harvesting ( 25-30% of the harvest). This is not only our loss but of the rest of farmers in Palimbang. Kanipaan alone has 80 hectares for rice farming. Thus, we are talking of wastage here in TONS. Clearly, this shows the need to mechanize harvesting as the farmers themselves will benefit most of it.
There is a notion that when we mechanize harvesting, many people will lost jobs but if we think of the welfare of the farmers and how to increase their production, reduce wastage, prevent crop loss, then, mechanization is a step.