Deki-aki is a term that is made up of the words “deki” which means ripening and “aki” which means autumn. So deki-aki means autumn harvest. (Not all Japanese know this term)
Every year, farmers expectantly await the Deki-Aki with an unexplainable emotional high yet they seem to restrain their feelings of excitement and calmly make their way into a paddy field, maintaining their composure. The men never get too accustomed to their work, the old never slack and the young never pretend to know well. They seem to work every year just like it was their first harvest.
Work after reaping
Sometimes, farmers dry the reaped rice plants (rice plants = a stem, a blade and an ear with seeds) in the open air under the sun, but nowadays, most farmers use a drier.
This time, I would like to introduce Dewa Shonai Tokusan farm and briefly explain their procedure of rice processing after harvest.
First, the reaped rice plants are threshed with a threshing machine. Then the unhulled rice is removed from the ears, collected and temporarily packed into flexible containers. This is thrown into a hopper and sent to a drier where the water or moisture is removed. Next, the husk is removed with a rice huller and turns it to unpolished rice also known as brown rice. After that, the unpolished rice is sorted and weighed by machine and packed in tare. Rice polishing is done just before shipping to keep its freshness. Rice polishing and shipping process often continue through the night because of large customer orders.
Cultivated land after harvesting
There are guests that the urban people consider strange. The swan. They come flying from Siberia to stay over the winter. They say more than ten thousand swans stay in Shonai plain. They pick up ears of grain that have fallen to the ground after harvesting.
About the labor of agriculture
In conventional farming, it is said that nearly 35% of the total cost covers the labor cost. But I am worried that it is very difficult to determine labor cost in accounting terms. I think it is because farmers have their nature that forces them to keep working until their tasks are completed. This goes beyond the limits set by labor laws and they have no control over this. Farmers have a lot of tasks that cannot be postponed and done the following day, or tasks that have to be done immediately. Nevertheless, the results are not proportionate to the hours of labor though undoubtedly there is a correlation between the two. It seems it is not suitable for agriculture to procure labor according to a contract that states “you must work 8 hours a day, 5 days per week for a certain amount of money, certain amount of overtime pay and certain paid holidays.”
General business usually operates confidently in the domain where reasonable action can be taken. They do business based on knowledge that is known. In contrast, agriculture has a lot of unknown things in its domain. Nevertheless, farmers cannot avoid to work in farms due to their fate or mission that require them to produce foods. If they are confronted with difficulties that come from the unknown, they have to tackle them and devote their labor. This is what being a farmer is all about. It is difficult to understand the labor cost of farming.
When we talk about the total cost of agriculture, we must account for the social cost, which is difficult to estimate. The natural environment is damaged by agriculture and the industry has to pay for the recovery cost. If we agree that organic farming does not damage nature the way natural vegetation does, but this is seeking our own interest.
I think we must continue to make an effort to estimate the magnitude of the damage and the restoration cost, however difficult it may be and we must continue to bear this in mind.
While I watch the swans in the paddy fields and look at photos of the blue sky reflected on the surface of a water puddle where rice plants were already removed, an Indian red admiral, Japanese plume grass, unknown flowers and grasses, I am thinking about the work of the farmers.