© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

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Rice Harvest

Paddy field farmers harvest their rice crops twice a year. Maha Rice is harvested around March and Yala rice is harvested around August. The rice is ready for harvest when it turns golden.

Traditionally the crop would be harvested by hand and the bundles taken to an area of the field to be threshed. Increasingly  a mechanised combine harvester is hired from a contractor.

The rice stalks can be sold for thatch or fuel for brick making kilns and the rice grains are collected into sacks. These sacks are distributed according to custom. The owner will allot sacks to family members who may have a share in the paddy field and the paddy field labourers are customarily partially paid in rice. A trader attends to purchase any surplus.

Rice ready for harvesting - it has turned golden.  A spell of dry weather is necessary for harvesting

Traditional Harvesting by hand. This is very hard and hot work. A sharp knife is used to cut the rice which is gathered into bundles. Women often do this cutting.

The bundles are then carried back to the area of the field selected for threshing off the rice grains. This will probably be close to the paddy field house on the “island”.

Increasingly from the mid 2000s  combine harvesters  are being used. These are owned by contractors and hired at a daily rate to harvest a paddy field area. This one is working in the paddy fields in the Tissamaharama  area.

A Harvested paddy field

By the “island” there is a rice straw rick. This straw is often sold off  for fuel to e.g. bakers for their ovens or brick makers as kiln fuel or is left to rot and then used  to enrich the paddy field soil.