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October 10, 2003

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Our village host is Mr Mollo, a prominent citizen. He owns the local guest house and acts as the tax collector. He explains village economics to us. The town council will grant a citizen a concession of 6 acres for personal farming. However, to start the farm going (hiring labor, clearing the land, acquiring farm tools, seed, and building a home all cost more money than the average person can handle, so most people must start out as laborers to raise the initial capital to start a farm. As a rule of thumb, an acre of land yields 25 bags of rice. Each bag sells for 30,000 shillings. One bag must be paid to each laborer and the government also taxes 1000 shillings per bag. Finally, it costs another 1,000 shillings to ship the bag to market. After all of these expenses, your average farmer will have earned 3000 dollars profit, which is just enough to buy food for an entire year. Subsistence living. The growing season lasts 5 months. The next 7 months are spent at leisure or trying other ways to raise money - like selling trinkets to tourists.
We fall into a village routine, fetching water at dawn and dusk from the well.
Shopping always causes a stir.