Eight Years' Wanderings in Ceylon by Samuel White Baker


Every native is perfectly aware of this advantage in rice
cultivation; and were the supply of water ensured to them - Page 70
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Every Native Is Perfectly Aware Of This Advantage In Rice Cultivation; And Were The Supply Of Water Ensured To Them By The Repair Of A Principal Tank, They Would Gather Around Its Margin.

The thorny jungles would soon disappear from the surface of the ground, and a densely-populated and prosperous district would again exist where all has been a wilderness for a thousand years.

The system of rice cultivation is exceedingly laborious. The first consideration being a supply of water, the second is a perfect level, or series of levels, to be irrigated. Thus a hill-side must be terraced out into a succession of platforms or steps; and a plain, however apparently flat, must, by the requisite embankments, be reduced to the most perfect surface.

This being completed, the water is laid on for a certain time, until the soil has become excessively soft and muddy. It is then run off, and the land is ploughed by a simple implement, which, being drawn by two buffaloes, stirs up the soil to a depth of eighteen inches. This finished, the water is again laid on until the mud becomes so soft that a man will sink knee-deep. In this state it is then trodden over by buffaloes, driven backward and forward in large gangs, until the mud is so thoroughly mixed that upon the withdrawal of the water it sinks to a perfect level.

Upon this surface the paddy, having been previously soaked in water, is now sown; and, in the course of a fortnight, it attains a height of about four inches.

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