Technology & Innovation

Rice planting

A more demanding job than you might think

It takes roughly three to four months for rice paddy to be ready for harvest, some stages of the planting and growing process demand patience and a sharp eye.

It’s a cool morning in Burkina Faso, a power tiller shuts off after the rice nursery has been set up and prepared for transplantation. The rice seedlings are transplanted by rice farmers, methodically and patiently often in straight lines, guided by a string. A rather straightforward process, in comparison to what awaits the farmers for the coming three months.

Ajara Bamogo is watching for birds in a rice paddy belonging to her father, Natouba Francois Bamogo, in Bama in the Hauts-Bassins region of Burkina Faso.

In the days following the transplantation of rice seedlings, rice farmers work in unison to ensure that nothing gets in between their expected harvest, through the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and physically checking for land or air threats such as: weeds, insects, rodents and birds.

Rice fields are continuously weeded and sprayed, to ensure that no diseases or parasite can take a hold of the growing paddy rice. During this process, it is common to find farm workers scouring in-between the rice fields for parasites and insects.

In addition, farm workers also search through areas where weeds have formed, to among other things, ensure that no rodents have found shelter under weeds, which offer a great hiding spot for snakes to access the sustainably sourced river water intended to water the rice paddy, from nearby canals.

Some farmers, and at times children during their school holiday stay up to 30 days close to their fields, carefully watching from sunset to sundown. Sometimes armed only with handmade clappers, constructed out of rolled plastic and clapped against the palms of the hand, to scare away birds from approaching the growing rice paddy, on the one hand. On the other hand, in some cases, those standing guard prefer to situate themselves in the middle of their rice fields by either sitting on the ground or in a sort of wooden platform covered by rice sacks as cover. All very tedious work, but much needed, since birds can destroy a full harvest and with that a much-needed source of income.

Issaka Sidibé (left, approximately 15) and his brother Hayouba Sidibé (approximately 19) sheltering from drizzle as they keep birds away from their family’s rice paddy on the Pleine Irrigé de la Vallée du Kou (Kou Valley Irrigated Plain) in Bama in the Hauts-Bassins region of Burkina Faso.

There are times, when farmers are not able to physically be present, in those times they rely on scarecrows, that sometimes look like abstract works of art, by propping old rice sacks on sticks. Similarly, some farmers use plastic flags, placing old plastic bags on sticks that blow wildly in the wind.

For a more visual representation of what you have just read and seen, take a look at the pictures in the gallery below, shot in one of CARI’s implementing countries, Burkina Faso, by the photojournalist Nyani Quarmyne on behalf of CARI. You can find more of his work here: Nyani Quarmyne | Photographer | Global Health & Social Justice (


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