The history of manual harvest
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La cosecha manual durante los siglos.
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Today the annual global onion production is over: 83 million mT and the annual global potato production is over: ...

During centuries manual harvesting didn't change much in many regions of the world.

Today: 62 million tons of onions and 237 million tons of potatoes are harvested manually.

Loading red onions in India.
Loading red onions in India.

During a manual harvest the following chores are done by hand:

1. Pull the onions or potatoes out of the ground.

2. Remove or cut the green with a pair of scissors (clippers) or machete.

3. Place the onions or potatoes in rows 1n the middle of the seedbed to be dried by the wind and sun.

4. The potatoes or onions are placed in jute bags to be transported to a storage facility or some place where they can by graded by hand and packed in bags de 25 kg for its final transport to the market.

Below we show a series of images from all over the world depicting manual harvests. In between the images are some pictures of paintings, painted centuries ago, which shows that the development of mechanization in agriculture is rather stagnant in various parts of the world.

Read: A final thought on manual versus mechanized harvesting. At the bottom of this page.

The onions or potatoes are pulled out of the ground.

Pulling onions out of the ground.
Pulling onions out of the ground.
Women harvesting onions
Women harvesting onions
All family members participating with the onion harvest
All family members participating with the onion harvest
Pulling hard to get the onion out of the ground.
Pulling hard to get the onion out of the ground.

Cutting the green with clippers or machete.

Pulled onions waiting to have the leaves chopped off.
Pulled onions waiting to have the leaves chopped off.
Topping onions and putting them into bags
Topping onions and putting them into bags
The way of harvesting has not changed during centuries.
The way of harvesting has not changed during centuries.

The potatoes or onions are placed in rows to be dried by the wind. The product is: wind rowed

Row of pulled onions in Argentina
Row of pulled onions in Argentina
Rows of harvested onions on the high planes of Peru;.
Rows of harvested onions on the high planes of Peru;.
Young boy working during the manual onion harvest.
Young boy working during the manual onion harvest.
Kilometers of lines of manually harvested onions..
Kilometers of lines of manually harvested onions..

The potatoes or onions are placed in bags to be transported to a storage facility or some place where they can by graded and packed in bags of 25 kg for its final transport to the market.

Small boy with enormous bags of freshly and manually harvested onions
Small boy with enormous bags of freshly and manually harvested onions
The same struggle 200 years ago.
The same struggle 200 years ago.
This painting of a manual harvest was painted in the 19th century.
This painting of a manual harvest was painted in the 19th century.
Each bag with onions weighs around 50 kilogram.
Each bag with onions weighs around 50 kilogram.

Question:

Isn't it time that the mechanization of the harvest should be taken more seriously?

Not only for economic reasons but also for social reasons!

Mexico, manual onion harvest 50 years ago.
Mexico, manual onion harvest 50 years ago.
Mexico, manual onion harvest today.
Mexico, manual onion harvest today.

Displaced by hunger and poverty!

For instance: labor law in Mexico requires the following:

1. Shade at the work place.

2. Bathroom at X meters from the workplace

Imagine the logistics required for all those day laborers!

Harvest: Day laborers displaced by hunger!
Day laborers displaced by hunger.

A manual harvest is an enormous amount of work:

1. On the average an onion weighs about 90 grams.

2. A yield of about 50.000 Kg per hectare.

3. All those onions are pulled out of the ground and have the earth removed by hand.

4. All those onions are clipped by hand.

5. All those onions are collected and put in different jute bags by hand.

6. All those bags are put on trucks by hand.

Imagine a field of 20 hectares!

And we are talking 11 millions onions !

A final consideration on the social impact of manual versus mechanised harvesting.

Displaced by hunger and poverty.
Displaced by hunger and poverty.

We often hear the complaint that mechanized harvesting destroys jobs and there for it is not fair to the field laborers. But the reality is that every year literally millions of people all over the world are displaced during a couple of weeks to harvest, onions, potatoes and other produce against minimal wages and without any social security. And after the harvest they are discarded and send back to where they came from trying to survive till the next harvest.

Read: Displaced by hunger or The invisible work force.

365 million mT.

More than 62 mT (75%) of the global onion production and more than 237 mT (65%) of the global potato production is being harvested manually!

A final thought on:
manual harvesting
versus
mechanized harvesting

We often hear the complaint that mechanized harvesting destroys jobs and there for it is not fair to the field laborers. But the reality is that every year literally millions of people all over the world are displaced during a couple of weeks to harvest, onions, potatoes and other produce against minimal wages and mostly no social security whatsoever and after the harvest they are discarded and send back to where they came from trying to survive till the next harvest.

Have a look:

Displaced by hunger orThe invisible work force


To mechanise your post harvest processes:
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