What's happening in the farms and granaries- a climate update
Have you been wondering why some of your favourite red rices are out of stock? Why are some basic goodies are not available?
We and our farmers are facing serious challenges in the fields, in the mills and in the store. It has been raining incessantly for two months in most of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Initially, the rains were great for us, the paddy fields danced in the water, ponds filled up, we rejoiced, we all talked about replenishing our water tables. But then they didn't stop, the paddy fields overflowed drowning the crops, the farmers were going out once a day to check the fields, watching the waters eat up the crops.
The rice mills stopped as we didn't have a day of sun. Paddy needs to be dried in the sun to ensure that the milled rice comes out without breakage. The parboiling of rice in the farms and mills also stopped as the parboiled paddy needs to be dried in the hot sun (on a dry floor) to ensure quality.
The women's group making the sprouted flours haven't been able to do it again because of rains, and the other perennial problem in rural areas, unpredictable power supply. Their units work on solar back up and no sun equals no processing.
The vegetable farmers have faced tremendous losses with the greens, tomatoes and various other vegetables rotting in the fields. This is the season for winter exotics and nothing much has survived.
The paddy harvest has begun for many areas, but in the waterlogged fields machines can't be used for harvesting. Our farmers' families and workers have to go into the slushy fields (knee-deep in slush) and manually harvest every bunch. To compound the problem most of the paddy has lodged (means the stalks have fallen to the ground due to the winds and rains). Post-harvest again the paddy needs to dry to be threshed and bagged and with the sun having shown no signs the farmers are waiting & watching.
At Bio Basics we clean and winnow and dry every bag of grain and pulse before packing. With no sun, no heat, the drying element has been almost impossible. If the sun shows up the whole team rushes with various grains to do a little drying, leading to more probability of infestation. Sun is the biggest armour of organic grain.
The rains were to stop after Diwali, then after mid-Nov and then after the end of November, but the depressions in the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean have buffeted peninsular India. Our farmers are reeling, our grains are stuck in warehouses, farmer harvest is underwater, our team members have been impacted, our courier partners have been stalled, but we are all plodding on, taking it one day at a time...
So inextricably the sun, the air and water are connected to the food we eat. Climate change is a reality, there is no escaping it, we have to deal with it every day - in our food, our farms and our lives - impacting us in ways we can't fathom.
At this juncture asking for your solidarity, understanding and support. Our farming, farmers and food need more mindfulness and engagement with us, things are getting tougher and all of us will need to step up in some form or the other! Thanks for reading through to the end.