Rice, the staple food that cuts across most food cultures in Asia, is a humble grain that many of us consume without really knowing its journey from the fields to our plates. Many of us, having lived in Singapore and consumed rice our entire life, we had little perspective on how rice is grown, until we visited a local organic rice farming community ourselves on our recent trip to Luang Prabang.
We arrived at the farm after breakfast and was greeted with beautiful paddy fields, mountains on the backdrop, and buffalos and ducks frolicking in a flooded nursery. A local farmer came and greeted us before we started the 14 steps of rice growing and processing. Each step was carefully explained and demonstrated by the local farmer before we had our turn to practice. From choosing the good seeds from the bad ones to sowing in the nursery, transplantation, ploughing of rice fields with the help of buffalos, planting process, harvesting, sifting, threshing, washing, and more, we learned about the immense amount of work that goes into every grain of edible rice.
Some steps were more laborious than others, while others exposed the dangers of what farmers have to go through. For example, transplanting rice seedlings is back-breaking work that involves bending over in the field all day, while threshing involves the use of machines that are dangerous if not handled correctly. At the end of the program, they showed us the art of steaming rice the traditional way – on a bamboo basket, before serving a lunch meal, including crackers and sticky rice, as well as a traditional Lao chili paste dip.
This experience gave us a newfound appreciation for rice, and we will never see this humble grain the same way again. We now understand the hard work and dedication that goes into every grain of rice that ends up on our plates. For that, we’ll savour every grain on our plate, so none of the efforts go to waste.
For those looking for unique travel experiences, we would highly recommend this as an educational and memorable experience. Even if you don’t prefer getting your hands dirty, they allow you to observe on the side, which is still a great way to learn. This experience is suitable for both adults and children, and it is an excellent opportunity to get to know the local community and learn about their way of life.
Our experience with the local organic rice farming community in Luang Prabang was an eye-opener. We gained a deeper appreciation for the effort that goes into rice farming, and will never take a simple bowl of rice for granted again.