It's been three weeks since the devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake jolted Southwest China's Sichuan province. The province is also known the breadbasket of China. Farmers are now racing against time to salvage crops from the rainy season.
This is another battle field for local people in their struggle to cut the cost of the massive earthquake.
From sun-up to sun-down, villagers work around the clock to reap all left in the field, which accounts nearly 20 percent of the output of the affected grain farmland in Sichuan.
The unharvested wheat field extends over 23,000 hectares. The massive area makes the harvest no easy task. And the arrival of June, a sign of the beginning of the rainy season, joined the line to make the job even more difficult.
The huge human losses are another hurdle for the harvest. As of mid-Wednesday, China's quake death toll surpassed 69,000, with over 373,000 injured, and more than 17,000 still missing. That means some fields even lost their owners.
One villager said "There are around a dozen people in the field. We are all volunteers. Each remaining family sends one person to help reaping."
As quake-twisted roads stopped big machinery in many areas, all work has to be done by hand. The military comes to help.
One PLA soldier said "Regularly, we set out from our camp at 6 am. We carry our own lunch and return at about 6 or 7 pm."
The troop participation brings a sigh of relief from the local villagers.
One villager said "PLA soldiers come to help with the harvest. We are not afraid. But we should also do our job, be independent and rely on ourselves."
The Sichuan provincial government said the May 12 earthquake will not affect the crop production as it jolted mainly upland mountain areas. Now 92 percent of the wheat fields in the province have been harvested.
(CCTV June 6, 2008)