While Thip and I don’t get out there for the hard work in the rice paddies (exposure to the sun and repetitious bending), we contribute in other ways the family cannot; namely by providing the land and financial assistance for things like fertilizer, pumps, electricity, buildings to shade workers, machinery, repairs, threshing, food, beer. We don’t pay for it all, but ours is by far the largest monetary contribution to the family enterprise.
The only thing that we don’t pay for is hired help. Thip’s brother Sawt, who organizes the seasonal planting and harvesting, sometimes hires non-family members and friends to help out at peak periods. If that’s how he wants to manage it, “up to him” is how we put it here in the Land of Smiles (LoS).
As far as I am concerned, there are enough able bodied family members, who get a portion of the crop, to help bring it in; some of these are conspicuous only in their absence.
Sadly, these are mostly the younger members of the family who are in far better physical condition than those of us who are older. This problem of “missing youth” on farms is not limited to our family alone, but is – I believe – a nation-wide issue that has occurred in other countries, too. When thinking about the ramifications of this for
Thailand’s future as a major rice
exporter, however, it’s hard to see small family farms lasting very long.
("What, you sayin' I don't work around here, dude?")
(Front gate area of our home in the village; boots are necessary even on dry days if you're in fields highly overgrown; it's all about the possibility of coming across a snake or two...)
Here’s a video showing how we pump water from the family farm, next door, to irrigate the rice paddies on our 8.5 rai farm. Cameo’s by Thip’s father Nah and some other family members towards the end:
2014-06_8.5rai from Malcolm Gault-Williams on Vimeo.