Tell your Kids about how Farmers Cultivate Wheat
From parathas and rotis to pizza and burgers, you simply cannot ignore the presence of wheat in your meals. But have you ever wondered how it is produced? Read on to know how farmers cultivate this staple crop.
गाँव कनेक्शन 21 Nov 2023 10:32 AM GMT
Gone are the days when we visited our grandparents during vacations and watched different types of crops being cultivated as per the season in their village.
If it were winter, the farmlands would be covered with yellow mustard flowers. Or, the wheat crop would be growing in the fields. During summer vacations, the farmers would be busy preparing their fields for the upcoming kharif season and the paddy crop.
Forget visiting a village, children growing up in big cities no longer visit a local kirana store with their parents to buy the monthly groceries — rice, pulses, wheat, masalas, oil, and more.
Delivery wars have erupted in cities in urban India where home delivery of items within minutes of placing an order through a mobile app is the order of the day. It will be no surprise if young urban children do not know where their food actually comes from and how it is cultivated.
But, urban families and schools in cities are increasingly realising the importance of teaching children how crops are cultivated, and how the food reaches from the farm to their plates. There are farming experiences being curated for urban families and city kids.
Gaon Connection is decoding how some staple crops and vegetables are cultivated, and how young readers can grow some of them at their homes — balconies or terrace — in the cities.
Wheat’s the matter
Pizzas, burgers, poori, momo, roll, sandwich, bakery products, are some of the most favourite food items of children. And all of them involve extensive use of wheat flour in cooking.
Do you know that the cultivation of wheat dates back to over 5,000 years back during the era of Indus Valley civilization. And today, India is the world’s second largest producer of wheat.
But can you tell how wheat is cultivated? What are the various steps involved in its cultivation and harvest before it reaches us as bread or chapati on our plate?
Wheat is a winter crop. The ideal season to cultivate wheat begins in October-November when the weather begins to get a bit cooler and less humid. The crops grown in this season are called rabi (Arabic word for spring) crops. Wheat is a rabi crop.
How Wheat is Cultivated?
After ploughing the field, the farmers water the soil to make it slightly moist and then put the seeds of wheat in neatly arranged rows.
Most of the farmers place these seeds by dropping them by hand but the richer farmers who can afford heavy machinery for farming do it by using a seed drill machine.
This machine makes it easier for the farmers to plant seeds. This seed drill machine is attached to a tractor which moves across the field dispersing seeds in rows.
What follows the planting of seeds is the germination. After 10-15 days, these seeds germinate and small grass-like plants emerge from them.
At this stage, these plants are very fragile and need a lot of care. They have to be protected from animals who can graze on them or insects that can damage it. Also, there are small organisms like bacteria and viruses which are only visible under a microscope. They can also infect these tiny plants like they infect human beings.
To protect the wheat plants from these threats the farmers use chemicals called pesticides and insecticides. Some farmers also use chemical-free products like neem-oil to protect the wheat plant from these pests.
The farmers also ensure that no other plant grows near these wheat seedlings. Often there are seeds of other plants in the soil which germinate when they find water and nutrition. Such plants are plucked by the farmers because they can feed on the nutrients that are needed by the wheat plant for optimum growth. These plants who grow beside wheat and can affect their growth are called weeds.
After 20-25 days, the field is then supplied with water and the wheat plants are now about 10 inches in height.
The wheat crop needs to be provided with water for five-six times but if it rains on time then the number of times they need to be watered reduces.
By February, the wheat plant is almost a metre in height which is almost equal to three wooden or plastic scales put together. The same wooden scales of 30 centimetres that you use at your school!
From the seed plantation in October till January, the wheat plant in these four months, starts flowering. Yes, wheat also has green coloured flowers which then form the fruit.
These fruits have white coloured milky fluid which matures and dries to form the stuff that’s milled to produce wheat flour used for making chapatis.
By March, the wheat plant dries and the milky fluid now converts into wheat grains covered by shells of husk.
The removal of husk from wheat grains is called threshing and the farmers do it after harvesting the crop.
The harvesting is done either by sickle or by machines. The harvested wheat is then milled and the end product is the wheat flour which is used for cooking food items.
By the way, do you know that Holi festival is called a harvest festival because it is the season in which farmers celebrate the fact that their hard work of 4-5 months has produced results?
So next time you play Holi, remember that it is the festival in which farmers celebrate the happiness of harvesting the wheat crop!
Next time when you are eating a chapati, or a pizza, or a bread sandwich, remember the long process of wheat cultivation, and do not leave any leftovers on your plate.