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A look inside Indonesia’s rich tradition of rice farming

  • 23
  • 04
  • 2016

When tourists travel around Bali and Java, they see gorgeous rice fields. In fact, the rice fields of Indonesia are famous for their photogenic atmosphere. Both tourists and professional photographers flock to the countryside to take photos of the beautiful terraced rice fields.1

They do not realize, though, all the hard work that went into making those fields so gorgeous.

Wet Rice Production

Indonesia has all the requirements for wet rice production:

  • high temperature – Indonesia’s tropical climate is perfect.
  • correct soil – Volcanic soil gives a high yield.
  • water – Indonesia’s yearly rainfall is more than enough.
  • labor – Indonesia’s large rural population provides manpower to do all the work manually.

 

2Much of the rice production in Indonesia is done on small plots of land. First, the land to be planted needs to be ploughed. In this photo, a man is walking in the mud behind a plough that he has rented. If he did not have enough money to rent a plough, he would have used a water buffalo.

3

The farmer also needs to repair the mud walls around each small field in order to keep water in the field once it has been flooded. When he’s gotten the field ready, he floods it.

While the farmer is doing that, other members of the family plant rice seeds in small nursery beds.

4

Once the field is ready, the seedlings are taken from the nursery and brought to the field for the backbreaking work of planting them one by one. It does not take long for the rice to grow into the beautiful green rice fields that were shown in the first picture in this article.

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When the rice is getting close to harvest, the fields are drained and the plants turn a beautiful golden color. Farmers use a sickle or knife to cut the plants close to the ground. Then they pound the plants down onto a wooden block to knock the rice away from the plant.

6

After the rice has been gathered, both the plants and the rice are taken away, and the farmer lets water buffalo eat any rice that blew away during the harvest.

The farmer keeps some of the rice for himself and sells the rest to local cooperatives. In addition, he uses the remaining plant material for animal food. If he does not have animals to feed, then he can sell that to other farmers in the area.

7

Eventually, the field is burned to begin preparing it for the next crop of rice. Many parts of Indonesia have three crops per year.

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