Trying to Feed the World
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 3.5 • 1/1600 sec
Cruising the streets in Thailand, I kept seeing these flooded fields everywhere. I thought it was just the after-effects of monsoon season, but soon I learned the flooding was intentional. These Thai people we saw were rice farmers.
Rice is an interesting and essential crop, second only to corn (maize) in production worldwide. It is so important to some Asian cultures, that they even have annual celebrations or gods devoted to rice. Growing rice is such a labor-intensive process, it is most common in countries where workers are cheap and easy to come by. Many Asian communities still harvest rice by hand, though machinery is become more commonplace.
What makes rice-growing unique is the need for lots of water. Rice plants thrive in wet and hot environments, so part of the growth process involves keeping the seedlings under water for most of their early life. This also minimizes the amount of weeds and pests that can attack the young plants. Most of the rice paddies I saw did not need a complicated irrigation system to pull this off. They just built dirt walls around sections of the field, and let them fill up with water during the heavy rains. I got the chance to walk out on one of these walls, and was amazed at how strong it was, even though it was only about a foot thick.
Ok, fess up! What’s your favorite flavor of rice?