© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Occupations Food Production Market Small Business Building Other Occupations

Preparation of the Paddy field for planting

The irrigation channels are cleared and the banks either side strengthened . The paddy fields are lower than the “islands” where the owners and workers live. Additional labour is required for this task. Rice cultivation times vary from district to district and the labourers often travel to different areas to work. In  Ambalantota District for example, they would wait by the main road to be hired by the farmers. Many are in groups  and have an experienced supervisor. They are paid at a daily rate and given their food and lodgings. If they stay for the season, they will also earn a share of the harvest.They often provide their own hand tool. Although they are known as day labourers, many will stay for the whole cultivation season and return again for the next. They are increasingly in short supply as the work is physically demanding and alternative employment opportunities are now available.

- Hence increased mechanization and contractors e.g. for harvest.

Sorting the seed - it is often partially germinated in the sacks before planting. The progress of the germination is checked.

The “Broadcast” method of sowing is still common, especially in the family run paddy fields

Germinated seeds

Strengthening and repairing the irrigation ditches that surround the areas where the rice will be planted

Rice farmers and their workers live on raised  “islands”  dotted amongst the paddy fields. These are typically planted with coconut and banana trees.

They often prefer to use their own hand tool.

A group of paddy field labourers with their supervisor (on right).

Inside a paddy field mud house.