Rice sowing season comes as liberation from pandemic-caged life
BUDGAM: In times when the Covid-19 pandemic has brought life to a standstill globally and particularly in our landlocked valley, the season of sowing rice has brought back hustle and bustle to the villages of Kashmir.
The season actually begins in late April when farmers prepare their fields before sowing the rice saplings. The saplings are prepared by sowing the seeds in a small piece of agricultural land. The grown saplings are later replanted with a much greater degree of separation in large extensive fields.
Once the saplings are sown, the farmers plough the fields either by using the traditional oxen or, more commonly now, tractors. The saplings are to be exposed to the sun for a good while to reduce the quantity of weeds, before water is pumped into the fields – practically flooding them – for irrigation.
Kashmir Reader spoke to a few farmers to know what significance this season holds for them. A farmer who belongs to Budgam called the rice sowing season the main agricultural season in Kashmir.
“If the farmers can’t grow rice in their fields, the whole land will remain uncultivated for the entire year,” he said.
Ali Mohammad Bhat, another farmer, said that in the months of May and June, farmers prepare the fields and begin flooding them with water.
“We have now started what we call the second phase of the rice growing process. Most of the farmers here are dependent upon this work for both livelihood and employment,” Bhat said.
Bhat said that when the seeds are grown into saplings in a small part of the agricultural field, it is commonly known as the first phase of the rice growing process.
“Now in the second phase we are growing the rice plants which have been prepared. The third phase will start from the end of September when the farmers will harvest the rice,” Bhat explained.
Zahoor Ahmad, a farmer, said that the cultivation of rice in Kashmir also provides food for domestic animals, with the fodder sufficing for 6 months and even longer.
“In the upper areas of Kashmir valley, the farmers usually grow the rice saplings in the month of June. In the lower areas, it is done in the month of May as the climatic conditions are warmer,” Ahmad said.
Farmers are hopeful for a bumper crop this year, unlike in the previous year when hailstorms wreaked havoc and damaged standing crops to a large extent.