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Rice cultivation 

As is well known, a lot of rice is grown in Asian countries. I met  Wayun in Jatiluwih on Bali and he was able to explain the traditional cultivation method to me. Wayun himself is a farmer and grew up on his parents’ farm. He had to help out early on. After school, however, he went to the city because the prospect of a job where you can earn more money is much greater.

Because he can speak English (in rural regions normally nobody speaks English), he was asked to work on the part of the UNESCO World Heritage rice terraces in Jatiluwih. It came in handy for me because he really knew about the cultivation.

Okay where do we start. Preferably with the sowing.

Since the rice terraces are quite small fields, it is absolutely not possible to mechanize the work steps using tractors. So manual work is required. Before sowing, the manure of the cows is plowed in. This is done with the cows and a single plow or the “walk behind”, a single-axle tractor with a motor and a kind of paddle wheel.

The average size of a rice farm is one hectare. With the cows (breed: Banteng / Sudan ox) plowing the fields takes several days, with the “walk behind” one hectare can be covered in 4 days, says Wayun.

The seeds are then spread by hand in a “paddy”, i.e. a section of the terrace. After 10-14 days, the rice will have accumulated and will be about 7 cm in size. Time for proper setting.

Each rice plant is pulled out of the ground and placed individually in rows across the entire cultivation area. This is by far the greatest amount of work and, above all, the hardest physically. Wayun meekly admits that at the end of the day his back is a bit stiff. No wonder…

During this time all available hands help and yet it takes almost a month until everything is ready (from plowing to the finished rice plant). Then there is a break of about two months during which many farmers work on construction in order to earn money. Then the weeds are fought. Manually, of course.

Again in a stooped position, all “paddies” are walked, the weeds are plucked by hand and trodden into the earth with their feet. Weeds are a great competitor to rice because they “steal” nutrients and space. If the weeds were allowed to grow, the rice plant would not develop well and it would remain smaller than normal. Chemical means of weed control are not used here. The second time the weeds are removed in the fourth month.

It is also fertilized in the fourth month. To do this, the irrigation has to pause and the chemical fertilizer, which is bought in granulate form in sacks, is distributed by hand and with the thumb. Watering can start again a week later.

The rice itself does not need permanent irrigation, but it serves to “suffocate” the weeds and not to let them germinate in the first place. There is also dry rice cultivation, for example in Australia.

The white hybrid rice is then harvested in the sixth month. The ears and leaves are cut with the sickle and the bundles are threshed. An average of 2 tons can be harvested from one hectare, twice a year and also know about the thresher machine price in india.

A few key data for the wise hybrid rice:

  • Seed costs: 1kg – 1000 IDR (6ct)
  • Fertilizer costs: 25kg – 200,000 IDR of which the state pays 50% (12.6 €, i.e. 6.3 €)
  • Yield: 2t / ha
  • Result: 1kg – 16,000 IDR (1 €)

Red rice is the traditional variety, which means that the harvested rice can be sown again. This is not possible with hybrid rice because it is a cross of two types. If you saw him again, bastards would come out. The plant would be genetically “crippled” and the yield would not be good. The good qualities of both parents are combined in a hybrid.

The red rice takes 7 months to harvest, so it can only be harvested once a year. However, the red rice does not need any chemical fertilizer and the farmer receives 25,000 IDR (1.6 €) per kilogram of yield.

As you can see, the effort is enormous and the possibility of mechanization in the rice terraces is limited. These small fields on the slope do not exist everywhere. In flat areas, the areas are slightly larger, but the structures are still not big enough for a Tecker to be worthwhile.

As I learned in Bangkok, the Indonesian government is running a program in which they buy tons of tractors and give them to farmers. However, it is taught without training or other seminars. The farmers use the machine and since it is a gift, they do not look after it very carefully. Professional use therefore fails.

The next few years will show whether it is a complete bad investment or an opportunity for rural areas.


Autumn is harvest time. People all over the world reap what nature offers them. In our latitudes these are potatoes, cabbage and pumpkins, in Indonesia it is mainly rice. With a per capita consumption of around 115 kilograms per year, it is the most important staple food for the people here. The demand is so great that Indonesia – despite being the third largest rice producer in the world – has to import around one million tons annually to meet the needs of the population.

Especially in rural and poor areas, such as in the Mawas area in central Kalimantan, rice plays a very important role when it comes to feeding people.

Satisfying this demand and producing such large quantities of a single food item has an environmentally critical downside: farmers mainly use conventional technology and use large quantities of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other agricultural inputs derived from fossil fuels. This is a huge problem for the environment: Monoculture management reduces biodiversity, water and soil are heavily polluted, and water-based ecosystems are over-enriched with nutrients. The ground is dying. Alternatives are urgently needed in order to meet the demand for staple foods in a sustainable manner.


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