rice transplanter

Close cropping was the cornerstone of innovative tilling. Seeds too, it seemed, showed a revolutionary spirit, those belonging to the same class sharing light and nutrients in a spurt of equality. Explained Chairman Mao: ‘With company they grow easily, when they grow together they will be more comfortable.’ More often than not, villagers were instructed to transplant rice shoots from adjacent strips on to the experimental plot, squeezing the clumps closely together. Villagers, of course, knew better: they had tilled the land for generations, and knew how to care for a precious resource on which their livelihoods depended. Many were incredulous, some trying to reason with the cadres: ‘You plant the seedlings too closely, there is not enough breathing space between them, and then you add ten tonnes of fertiliser per field. It will suffocate them to death.’ But advice was ignored: ‘It’s a new technique, you don’t understand!’
—  Mao’s Great Famine, Frank Dikötter