TWENTIETH CENTURY IMPRESSIONS
have since been remodelled or repaired, and substantial additions have been made. The Mandalay Canal, for instance, was opened in 1902. It is 40 miles in length, and its fourteen distributions supply water to 200,000 acres of land. In the Minbu District, one of the driest zones, 79,000 acres will be served by the Mon canals. The raising of the water is often a quite important process, and various means, such as the water wheel, the swing basket, the trough lift, and the bamboo leveraso familiar in the Eastaare adopted.
Unfortunately, though the Burmese cultivator is usually a cheerful, law-abiding and well-disposed member of society, he is too frequently easy-going and improvident. As a result a considerable proportion of the more valuable delta land is being cultivated by, and is passing into the hands of, natives of India, who originally worked upon the land as coolies. Very often the Burmese paddy grower has sold the produce of his land before it has formed in the ear. In Lower Burma this is especially the case. The multiplication of rice-mills in Rangoon of recent years has made the competition so keen amongst millers for the possession of the grain that a grower has little difficulty in receiving money down for his produce at the beginning of the season. At the present time there are sufficient rice-mills in Rangoon to treat all the rice which comes into the town annually in four months. The cultivators, therefore, under present conditions, need have no difficulty whatever in disposing of their produce at a rate favourable to themselves. A number of them, however, are in the hands of chetties, or the subsidised buyers or brokers connected with the large rice-millers in Rangoon, Moulmein, and Bassein.
As soon as the grain is reaped it is separated from the stubble and the ear by threshing, rolling, or treading. This is usually done in quite a primitive manner. The usual custom is to choose a level and specially prepared piece of ground, in' the centre of which a pole is erected. To this a pair of bullocks are attached by a piece of rope and a band made of rattans or, metal, and the animals are driven around in a circle, which is kept well filled with the cut paddy. In the villages this furnishes an opportunity tor considerable frolic, especially amongst the young people who romp in the straw, whilst in the evening the place is probably aglow with the light of a huge stubble 01* straw fire.
The grain for the local markets is treated in the small mills which are spread all over the country, but practically the whole of the
paddy intended for export is brought for milling either to Rangoon, Moulmein, Bassein, or Akyab. In Rangoon alone there are about 120 rice-mills. The greater number of these are owned by Burmese and Chinese proprietors, though there are eleven large European millers, of whom five are English, four German, one Dutch, and one Italian. To these mills the paddy is brought down in boats varying in capacity from 50 to 200 tons.
During the months of February and March, the busy part of the milling season, as much as 25,000 tons of paddy will arrive in Rangoon by boat and rail in a single day, and when it is remembered that the whole of this quantity has to be measured and landed by hand at the different mills and godowns,
different mills, who endeavour by every persuasion in their power to induce the boatman to sell his cargo to them. Many of the boats are, however, working under subsidies from millers or their brokers, and by the arrangement entered into they are not allowed to sell other than to one particular mill. The price of the grain varies slightly, according to the quality, but is always based upon a hundred measures of 46 lbs. each. The paddy is carried by coolies from the boat along a narrow plank to the shore, and put into huge piles in the mill godowns.
There are certain mills in Rangoon capable of producing as much as 1,000 tons of cargo rice and 800 tons of white rice in twenty-four hours.
Rice-milling is one of the most interesting
BURMESE WOMEN POUNDING RICE.
some impression will be gained of the number of coolies employed, and of the perfect organisation necessary at the larger factories. It is a most interesting sight in the early morning to meet the fleet of boats, numbering some hundreds, of all descriptions, from a sampan to a steel barge of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, getting under weigh in the Kanoungtoe Creek, and running alongside those mills to which they intend selling their cargoes of paddy. On a busy day this creek (where most of the Rangoon mills are situated) is sometimes so densely packed with boats that the surface of the water is almost invisible, and progress up or down is rendered practically impossible.
On arrival in Rangoon the boats are met by numbers of brokers connected with the
of industries, and it has been particularly interesting in the East during the past twenty years, as the trade has been developing at a good rate all the time. The appearance and value of the finished rice depends largely upon the care and skill with which the milling process is performed. The paddy, after it has been landed from the boats, almost certainly contains a small proportion of mud and straw and other extraneous substances, so that the first necessary operation is that of cleaning it. From the godowns the grain passes, by means of an elevator, on to what is known as a paddy screen, an oblong machine about 3 feet in length by 3 feet wide, which is propelled from the centre by an upright shaft with an eccentric attachment that causes the screen to be shaken with a regular motion. The top deckof industries, and it has been particularly interesting in the East during the past twenty years, as the trade has been developing at a good rate all the time. The appearance and value of the finished rice depends largely upon the care and skill with which the milling process is performed. The paddy, after it has been landed from the boats, almost certainly contains a small proportion of mud and straw and other extraneous substances, so that the first necessary operation is that of cleaning it. From the godowns the grain passes, by means of an elevator, on to what is known as a paddy screen, an oblong machine about 3 feet in length by 3 feet wide, which is propelled from the centre by an upright shaft with an eccentric attachment that causes the screen to be shaken with a regular motion. The top deck