Thursday, October 6, 2011

Harvest Time

It is nearing the end of the raining season so people are starting to harvest their peanut and rice crops.  I asked my host father how much his compound that has about 12 in it how much rice they consume each month.  He looked at me and laughed and said too much.  He then said about two bags a month and about a bag of coos every month.  Each rice bag is about 100lbs and that is the same for the coos.  That means my family eats over a ton of rice a year.  I then tried to think back about how much rice my family in the states eats and I really couldn’t remember ever buying more than ten pounds of rice at a time and I told my host father we ate less than 50kgs a year and he was astonished at that and then asked what I ate.  He then told me that we had just recently ran out of coos.  My family eats coos in porridge ever morning.  One of my host brothers left in June to grow coos in another region of the country, he does this every year.  We called him and he said he has just started harvesting coos.  So we decided that my brother here and I will go and help him harvest coos for a few days and hopefully bring back a bag or two of coos back with us for the family.  If not, we will continue to eat left over rice from dinner that is reheated and served for breakfast.  

This week I spent two days helping a family in my village harvest rice and I spent one day helping another man harvest peanuts.  I will first explain the process of harvesting peanuts.  You walk along in a line however many men there are.  Each person bends over and pulls out the peanut plants and shakes some of the dirt off and you put them in piles and you walk the whole length of the field.  Then a small boy comes along and puts them in one large pile.  Around this one large pile is where any able body person that can work is working pulling peanuts off the plant a few at a time and putting them in a bucket that is then emptied into a large 50kg rice bag.  I spent about nine hours pulling peanuts off the plant and filled my four gallon bucket five times.  The fifth time I got to take it home as a payment for helping, I also got fed lunch. In all we filled four and a half rice bags with peanuts in one day.  Currently one rice bag is being sold for approximately $20 USD.

Doing work

Rice bag O peanuts
Harvesting rice is done with a curved serrated knife that is about 16” long with a handle.  You walk along the rows of rice grab a handful of rice  a few inches off of the ground and then cut it with the knife, you  do this till your hand is full of rice stocks and then you put it in a pile and go to the next row over, you work 3-4 rows a person.  Another guy comes along and ties them piles with strips of fan palm leaves and then takes them to one large area to let them dry.  The effects of 90+ temperatures and over 90% humidity and bending over for two days my hamstrings and body were sore and tired.  I spent all day yesterday lying on the cool cement porch with a fan sleeping and reading.
Rice field

Cut rice in piles

Bundles of rice drying

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