Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Saturday, September 18, 2010

milling around the corner

every decent grain producing area will have a mill.
mostly in south india it is a rice mill.
these mills typically will have all the equipment to convert the harvested grain to its consumable form.
for rice processing, typical processes will be:
1. dehusking/hulling
2. de-stoning
3. polishing/milling
4. segregating whole grains from fines.

hence the finished products will be
1. whole grain rice (what we commonly buy)
2. rice fines (broken rice/noi arisi)
3. rice husk/paddy husk (ummi)
4. rice bran

for boiled rice (puzhungal arisi) there is an additional first step of boiling the paddy and then drying it.
farmers arrive with their produce and take back the finished products usually at a per kg cost paid to the mill.

the beauty of this process is the 'zero-waste' system.

while we were looking to get rice husk for our coconut planting, we ended up locating the local rice mill, at the corner of Zamin Endathur's main street.
the proprietor is a kind soft spoken man, Mr Mannaperumal, was more than happy to sell us the rice husk at a nominal cost. he either sells it as cow-feed or uses it as fuel to boil the 'boiled rice'.
we arrived (siddarth, karpagam, chellama and myself) and he asks, "where are the labourers?"
karpagam points at sid and myself. he shrugs and shows us in.
we shovel 11 sacks of around 20 kgs each. that is a lot of husk. remember that husk is very light and has a low density.
our coconuts will just love this.

as a bonus in this transaction, we also collect 2 big sacks of ash for our toilet.

a classic example of how a local economy works.


Vetirmagal said...

Her in city suburbs we are searching for getting some kilos of decent rice husk, for terrace garden!!! hmmm

Arvind said...

Pardon my ignorance, but how does the rice husk benefit the coconut?

Kishore said...

I agree Sriram, it is all about the local economy.

There will always be forces which stand to gain by displacing the local economy. For example, the MNC's.

There are many choices that we make daily that can help the local economy thrive. But to do that one has to be conscious of where you are spending.

I am still amazed that poorer sections of the society feed their children "Glucose biscuits" which have almost zero nutritional value while the natural resources around them could easily feed their families while preserving the source of these said resources.

One of the keys is informed action and I would like to bring a point of discussion as to how that can be done not isolated changes but a sea of?

csm said...

@vetrimagal - will be tough. in some places, this burnt ash of the hulls is used for sacred ash/vibhuti making.

@arvind - the idea is to try to simulate seaside soil for coconut.
rice husk/sawdust/river sand/coir help in that (while they do not allow water to stagnate, i.e., drain well, they also retain moisture)
plus you add manure and other nutrients for fertility.

@kishore - tell us more.

Kishore said...

So, Sriram, where to start?

The topic is obviously enormous but I believe as we discuss things new ideas sprout and we all grow with that.

The first thing that I think about is are we re-inventing the wheel?

You have obviously learned a lot as you are immersed in your project but as your horizons expand, I wanted to reflect on a few things and here goes.

a. It takes a bold person, DV, with a novel idea to initiate the new endeavor.

b. New individuals, inspired, then take up the cause.

c. As the cause gains momentum, how do you then make it have more of an impact without losing the core beliefs and inspiration?

d. Then how do you apply the methodology, wrought by the fire of trail and tribulation to a larger scale in the society that it is currently being implemented in?

Now you have had some opportunity to interact with the local economy and let us talk about impact. I think that the first step is to try and identify the weakest link.

For example, are people leaving the local area? If so, why?

Who are the least successful economically and why?

Does a child growing up in an area have a decent opportunity to make a life for him/her self locally? If not, why?

Does the prevailing psyche that the parents have, only allow them to wish for their children to follow a cloned path (some corporate/professional career) or let them chose a path less trodden?

Knowing that all of you have been successful in corporate careers, I am bringing up food for thought rather than even trying to attempt a cookie cutter solution.

I give great credence to the thought that the Native Americans had expressed about our time on the Earth and their connection to it. They very aptly "we do not own any land, rather we borrow the Earth from our children"

I look forward to other thoughts on this