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Rice harvesting

Have you ever wondered how rice is made respectively harvested? Read more to learn about this process and our learning.

This was the first rice harvesting at the farm – entire Thursday 20 September 2018. As you can see the harvest was done manually and believe me when I say it was hard work. We where six people doing the work…

rice field seen from above

The rice field was not huge in size but in effective work it was. You can see we managed to plant the rice in lines. This made the harvest easier than planting it randomly. On the left side you can see the Ginger and Turmeric bordering the rice.

First step was to cut the rice halms. The rice is cut halm by halm with a rounded type of knife with sharp-edged mussel.

rice harvesting tools

This is the tool we used to cut the rice.

harvesting rice manually

So this process took a few hours and as usual before and after midday the sun and the tropical heat are even stronger so we where sweating like in a Finnish sauna. But it got more extreme in the next step.

Next step was to build a tent like structure with transparent plastic. As you can see in the picture surrounding the rice and the tent is the soursop plantation.

Next step was to get the rice stem out of the rice halm by hitting it on the floor in a plastic tent so we would not loose any rice stems…

Video Manual Rice Harvesting at PermaTree in Ecuador

This was the output. Mostly rice stems but not only. Lots of parts of the rice halm too.

Next step was to create a filter to exclude everything but the rice stems. We made it manually like seen in the picture.

 

Rice we harvested

Final step to get the white rice was to send the harvested 50kg rice to a machine which separates the grains of rice halm from the rice halm husks. Such a machine is called a rice huller and is used to automate the process of removing the chaff (the outer husks) of grains of rice. Throughout history, there have been numerous techniques to hull rice. Traditionally, it would be pounded using some form of mortar and pestle. So after waiting for 8 weeks, there was not enough rice to be processed, we got our 50kg grain rice bag which was then only 25kg heavy without all the husks / chaff. Looks pretty impressive now that simple rice dosent it?

 

Nutrients in Rice

White rice is about 90% carbohydrate, 8 percent protein and 2 percent fat. White rice is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, iron, folic acid, thiamine and niacin. It is low in fiber and its fat content is primarily omega-6 fatty acids, which are considered pro-inflammatory.

 

Rice consumption in Ecuador

Does it seem as if Ecuadorians eat a lot of rice? Relatively speaking, compared to North Americans. However Ecuador’s consumption pales in comparison to Asia. Rice is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in Asia – where they eat about 100 kg per capita annually, on average per person! Ecuadorians consume about 30 kg per year, or about 1.3 cups of cooked rice daily. The coastal region West of the Andean range – Esmeraldas, Guayas, Los Ríos, Manabí, El Oro, Santa Elena is where most of Ecuador’s rice crop is grown.

Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with the altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a course that includes rice and a protein, and then dessert and coffee to finish.

History of Rice in Ecuador

Rice cultivation began in Asia and then Africa about 14,000 years ago. Rice was introduced to Latin America and the Caribbean by European colonizers in the early 1500s. Spanish colonizers are thought to have introduced Asian rice to Mexico in the 1520s at Veracruz. The Portuguese and their African slaves introduced it at about the same time to Colonial Brazil. Today, rice is the third-highest agricultural commodity grown globally. In Ecuador before the Spanish colonizers introduced the rice, the people where used to eat a rice like food, with 6,000 years of history, called Quinoa. After the conquest,Quinoa was largely replaced by European staples, such as wheat, rye and rice, though quinoa cultivation continued in rural areas. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, and in Peru the production of this once nearly forgotten crop increased 350% from 1980 to 2000. Quinoa is often called a superfood for its remarkable nutrient properties, including all 9 amino acids essential for proper nutrition. Of these, lysine and tryptophan—which are often lacking in plant proteins—are abundant in quinoa, making it a good protein substitution for meat.

So because Quinoa is now so popular and demand rises, so do prices. And as prices rise, Ecuadorians, Peruvians and Bolivians are no longer to afford what was once a staple food that provided important nutrients often lacking in rural Andean communities. Quinoa was quickly replaced with Rice.