Rice is Life

I know I’ve talked a bit here and there about working in rice fields and eating rice, but I’m not sure I’ve explained exactly how important rice is to Malagasy culture. In short rice is life. Most people here eat it three times a day in amounts that would cause. It’s the main crop that is grown and then also has to be imported because we can’t grow enough to feed everyone. People here can eat a huge plate of pasta, but then say that they are hungry because they haven’t had rice for that meal. Most of the people in my town consider pasta an appetizer.

There is more than one way to grow rice, but I’m going to give you the method my host family uses. They plant and harvest three rice crops a year.

  1. Get some rice seeds and plant a small nursery.
  2. After about two week you have to individually transplant each seedling in the field. You want to plant in nice rows equally spaced
  3. While the rice is growing you alternate flooding and drying the field to promote growth
  4. While the rice is growing you also need to weed every few weeks. This is down by hand or by pushing a machine.
  5. One the rice is “pregnant”, once it is ripening, you’ll flood the field one last time and stop weeding because you don’t want to disturb the rice
  6. To harvest you cut down the stalks then hit the stalks agains a rock or log to dislodge the rice
  7. Once that’s done you’ll want to dry it for a few days then take it to the local rice husking guy
  8. Now you can eat! (and trust me you’ll eat a lot)

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