By Rainbow Choi – 1 week volunteer
The villagers’ livelihood in Naklang village mostly depend on the crops they harvest each year, which is mainly rice and corn. The rice is saved for feeding their own families, while the corn is mostly sold for profit. The corn grows in about a 6-month cycle, the seeds are first planted around June and the crops will be harvested in the winter. I was given the chance to help with fertilising one of the villager’s corn field.
Although we set off on a rainy and cloudy day, the scenery we saw was still magnificent. It was quite a demanding hike up to the corn field, as it was located at the very top of the mountain; but once you’re up at the mountains, you will be able to overlook all the fields, as well as the mountains opposite us. There was also a good breeze towards the top, which was very refreshing.
When we finally arrived at the cornfield, the villagers were very generous to offer us coke to replenish our sugar levels. They also lent us long-sleeved clothing to cover our skin as the leaves can sometimes be itchy. The fertilisers that they used were in the form of little white pellets which contained sulphur, nitrogen, potassium oxide, phosphate and other essential ingredients. We were handed a bagful of fertilisers each, and had to grab a handful of pellets each time, and sprinkle it around every corn plant. The corn was about a month old, but it had already grown very tall.
This has been such a great learning experience. Most farmlands around the world have been industrialised and rely heavily on machinery, and I was lucky enough to be able to get a hands on experience of what it is like to farm by hand. It made me realise how much hard work goes into farming, especially by hand, and how precious food actually is. The 6 of us (2 of them were the locals) worked on fertilising for a solid one and a half hour, but was still unable to finish one small field. It made me wonder, just how much time and effort it must take for the two villagers to finish fertilising the fields on their own? Living in the city, it sometimes makes you forget all about the hard work farmers do, as we can so easily buy food from supermarkets. However, after experiencing this short but eye-opening journey, I became more aware of the amount of food that we waste after each meal, it made me reflect on how little I appreciate all the food provided to me every day.