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FIRE IN THE FIELDS

Rice fields in Java, Indonesia. A story for Suitcase Magazine

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  from  Amsterdam, The Netherlands  to  Java, Indonesia   - 11,734 km -    ‘A blue haze of smoke in a field so green, I felt like I was hypnotised.’

from Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Java, Indonesia

- 11,734 km -

‘A blue haze of smoke in a field so green, I felt like I was hypnotised.’

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 Almost twelve thousand kilometers from Amsterdam airport we fly to get all the way to Java, Indonesia. An island where three languages are spoken and temples are surrounded by volcanoes, coffee plantations and rice fields. This tropical rainforest has so much to offer, no wonder why Java is one of the most favourite islands to visit.  In Java, rain is so plentiful -almost 5000mm annually- that it is possible to grow at least four crops of rice a year and therefore making Indonesia the third largest producer of rice in the world. Mountains and highlands around Java aren’t only extremely beautiful but it also helps split the interior which make the fields relatively isolated; low walls maintain the water at a time when fields are flooded.

Almost twelve thousand kilometers from Amsterdam airport we fly to get all the way to Java, Indonesia. An island where three languages are spoken and temples are surrounded by volcanoes, coffee plantations and rice fields. This tropical rainforest has so much to offer, no wonder why Java is one of the most favourite islands to visit.

In Java, rain is so plentiful -almost 5000mm annually- that it is possible to grow at least four crops of rice a year and therefore making Indonesia the third largest producer of rice in the world.
Mountains and highlands around Java aren’t only extremely beautiful but it also helps split the interior which make the fields relatively isolated; low walls maintain the water at a time when fields are flooded.

 A blue haze of smoke in a field so green, I felt like I was hypnotised. Burning fields is a traditional way of affecting the quality of the soil, robbing it of vital nutrients. The smoke contains toxic chemicals which control respiratory problems and other diseases so it’s not only efficient, it’s also beautiful to see.  And for the farmers, I felt so much empathy. The process of planting, harvesting and threshing the rice is very slow. It’s all done by hand and they have been doing this since the early bronze age. From generation to generation.  I was absolutely amazed by the determination of the working farmers. You see it in their bodies. The body reflects the amount of work that goes in to such an intensive process. Bent backs are as crooked as can be, rough hands and sunburnt skin.

A blue haze of smoke in a field so green, I felt like I was hypnotised.
Burning fields is a traditional way of affecting the quality of the soil, robbing it of vital nutrients. The smoke contains toxic chemicals which control respiratory problems and other diseases so it’s not only efficient, it’s also beautiful to see.

And for the farmers, I felt so much empathy. The process of planting, harvesting and threshing the rice is very slow. It’s all done by hand and they have been doing this since the early bronze age. From generation to generation.

I was absolutely amazed by the determination of the working farmers. You see it in their bodies. The body reflects the amount of work that goes in to such an intensive process. Bent backs are as crooked as can be, rough hands and sunburnt skin.

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 The Javanese will teach you that patience is a virtue and what hard work does to the body, mind and soul.

The Javanese will teach you that patience is a virtue and what hard work does to the body, mind and soul.

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  Daniëlle Siobhán for    Suitcase Magazine    January 2019

Daniëlle Siobhán for Suitcase Magazine
January 2019