Rice farming is an important business in whole Asia


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Important for the Philippines is, to produce more rice then we need by our self. This way, we can export instead of importing year by year. 

The year of a rice farmer

Introducing Kuya and his family
Kuya's home Producing rice is a very important business in whole Asia. And of course in the Philippines too. One of my brothers is a rice farmer ever since, that's why I like to grab my chance to introduce 'Kuya' and his work for a living to you. The picture show the place where I grow up and where he is still living. The land to stay is given by the owner of the rice land around to my father already. We don't own the lot nor the rice land but lease it already since more then 50 years. There is electricity available. Water only from a deep well and whatever they need for their living, must be carried on the small ways between the rice fields.

Land preparation
It is important to make sure the rice field is ready for planting. A well prepared field controls weeds, recycle nutrients and it provides a soft soil for transplanting direct seeds. The initial land preparation begins directly after his last harvest. He need to clear the field and create compost from rice residues. At dry field condition, he need to apply glyphosate(*) to kill weeds and for better field hygiene. He water the field 3 days after he applied the herbicide and maintain 2-3 cm water level for about 7 days or until it is soft enough to plow the soil.

First land preparation

1. Plowing or to dig up, mix and overturn the soil to incorporate rice straw and other plant residue to hasten their decomposition. It also breaks soil clogs and increase the contact between soil and water.

2. Flooding the field about 10 cm water level for 2-3 weeks to kill insect pests that hide in weed and rice residue and in the soil. It also helps decompose all the plant residue and allow weed seeds to rot faster.

After the first land preparation, he is obliged to water or flood the fields before the second land preparation. And if he is planning to set up a nursery bed for growing the rice seedlings he need to put it in the corner of the rice land so it will not obstruct the field preparation work. And he need to inform the machine operator for the second land preparation 3 days before the rice transplanting.

Second land preparation

1. He need to plow and turn again the soil to mix with water for the second time around and to distribute decomposed plants residue. And puddle the soil to make leveling easier and to prepare a good bed for transplanting.

2. Land leveling is moving the soil from the higher portion of the land and bring it down to the lower portion to achieve even flood water in the whole field. Nowadays are machines available to do this work. When I was young, I can remember, my father and my mother was pulling a banana trunk with a rope along the field.

3. While leveling the soil, he need to make sure that he make a small canal or drainage in the fields more or less 3 meters in between the rice bed for possible way if he need to spray pesticide or apply the fertilizer.

4. Transplanting rice seedlings or direct seeding. Transplanting from a nursery bed or direct seeding by throwing the seed into the field. If there is enough water available, transplanting would be the better solution because this way are nearly up to 3 harvest a year possible.

How to prepare the rice seeds

Soak the seeds in clean water, and get the seeds out from the water after 24 hours and place them in a clean container. Cover and keep it there for 24-36 hours and make sure that you keep the seeds damp.

Disperse the seeds by grasping a handful of the seedlings and throw them to the damp seedbed in your nursery area. Fill the seedbed with 2-3 cm water after 3 days and keep the water there until the day you will pull the seedlings out. The seedling in the age of 21-25 days can already be transplanted. Sow the seedlings with a distance of 20cm to each other in every direction. Some farmer is doing the direct seeding, same procedure how to prepare the rice seeds, but they disperse it directly to the soil but no need to pull out and plant again.

About the way how to apply fertilizer, Kuya and the guys in neighborhood disperse the first fertilizer after 20 days and the second or they call it 'top dress' is after 45 days. Planting rice is December-January and the second crop of the year is by June - July. The rice is ready to harvest when the grains turn from green to yellow or some is after 120 days. It depends on the variety of the rice seeds.

When the harvest time is over, seeds are also stored for the next crop as long as it was one of the old rice varieties. If you are using a Hybrid rice you can't store for a next seeding process because the seed will not grow. You have to buy new seed.

Finally, the land is irrigated again in preparation for a new crop. This process provides a feeding ground for wildlife including birds, ducks and cows to name a few.

(*) Glyphosate was carried out first time in 1971 by the American company Monsanto. They named their product Roundup and in 1974 it was nearly world wide protected by patents. Most of this patents are no longer existing. Monsanto was expecting this to happens and start to produce genetic manipulated seed for many of the mostly used plants in farming. The seeds are now resistant against Roundup but Monsanto added another gene too. This 'Killer gene' makes sure, you can't use some from your crop for the next seed. This way you need to buy it. For a price Monsanto can dictate! Even it was not possible to integrate this 'Killer gene', you are not allow to use a share of your crop for a next seed because it is protected and 'owned' by Monsanto. For further information, watch the following documentary about Monsanto.

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