Winnowing made easy

Winnowing made easy

People of Gidakom in Thimphu have made a discovery right at the time of winnowing grains.

They make good use of an electric fan to separate quality grains from chaff, which is a crucial process in the cultivation of paddy. This is a catalyst for earning a livelihood through diversification of traditional farming.

The traditional way to winnow is by making dried grains fall from a height using shovels and a sieve. The quality grains which are heavy fall while the weightless chaff and straw get blown away by the wind.

A farmer, Ap Sonam, 36, is done with harvesting paddy and it is time for him to winnow grains. He said using the electric fan made it easy to separate grains from chaff. “Earlier, winnowing was effective only when there was wind. Farmers often had to wait for hours for the wind to blow before they could start the process of winnowing.”

He added that using the electric fan is a faster process to winnow. “Farmers no longer have to depend on natural wind to begin the process of winnowing.”

“Approximately, 300kg of paddy can be winnowed in one hour and the electric fan can also be operated in a closed corridor or a big hall and therefore winnowing can also be done during the rains,” he said.

Threshed grain contains all kinds of dockage (impurities), which should be removed as soon as possible after harvesting and certainly before storage, said Ap Sonam.

Another farmer, Aum Pem, who is also uses electric fan to winnow grains, said that paddy that is contaminated with straws, chaff, weed seeds, soil, rubbish, and other non-grain materials is now easily clean. “It improves milling output and quality of red rice,” she said.

She added that without electric fans winnowing grains takes longer and that they are now making good use of electric fan to clean the grains. “Gidakom farmers are aware of using electric fans, work is done easier than before now,” she said.

Meanwhile, farmers have finished harvesting their paddy. “Not many are interested because of the hard work of chasing the birds during harvesting time,” said Aum Pem.

She shared that farmers cultivated paddy more in the past. “I feel the number of birds have increased in recent years and destroy harvested paddy, but now with the use of electric fan we can take our grains and store it.”

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu