Whitehorn Films is set to release the second series of ‘Faraway Fields – The Hardest Harvest’ on June 7th at 9:35 pm on RTÉ 1. The programme follows Eveline Gill, a farmer and agricultural consultant from Birr, County Offaly, and Marina Conway, CEO of the Western Forestry Co-Op from Sligo, as they venture to Vietnam and Brazil respectively to experience the challenges of farming in different cultures.
In episode 2, Eveline Gill travels to the northern highlands of Vietnam to the tribal village of Nam Tang, home to the La Chi minority. Eveline is a farming consultant who operates at the cutting edge of modern agricultural science and an advocate for all things organic. She is used to farming in the Irish midlands and has never experienced farming in a mountainous backwater where farming techniques have been unchanged for centuries.
Eveline’s arrival coincides with a race against the clock to secure the rice harvest before the unpredictable spring rains and an approaching hurricane devastate the crop. For the villagers of Nam Tang, this is an existential threat. Although the La Chi are a profoundly hospitable people, they cannot afford to carry passengers with the harvest in danger, and Eveline will be pushed to the very limit of her physical abilities to earn her keep and help get the harvest in on time.
The role of women in traditional Vietnamese society is an eye-opener for Eveline. The bulk of the agricultural work is carried out by the women of the village, on top of the housework and child-rearing duties. Eveline struggles in the searing heat and high humidity as a result of climate change, a challenge shared by millions of rice workers across this part of the world who toil in this ever-increasing heat on a daily basis.
In programme 3, Marina Conway fulfils a lifelong dream by journeying to the tribal woodlands of Brazil. Avoiding the well-travelled adventurers’ path to the Amazon, Marina instead pitches up in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil’s north-east, the first part of the country sighted by European colonisers. The local indigenous people – the Pataxó – have remained under siege ever since, as commercial forestry – legal and illegal – swallows up their traditional homelands.
On the day she arrives in the village of Barra Velha, Marina learns that two young Pataxó tribesmen have just been shot dead by illegal loggers on the highway between Montinho and Mont Pascoal, which traverses disputed Pataxó land. After a ritual cleansing ceremony, Marina mucks in with the locals as they harvest manioc roots to make into flour for nourishment and sale in their traditional communal hut.
The Pataxó have no use for modern milling machines, given the importance of collective endeavour to their society. For Marina, who has dreamed of witnessing life among native inhabitants of a living forest since she was a child, the experience is a transformative one. From hunting for crabs in the mudflats to getting the once-over from a traditional health practitioner, Marina has a chance to live the values she has aspired to all her life, all the while wondering how long they can survive in a community under siege.
‘Faraway Fields – The Hardest Harvest’ is set to be an absorbing watch with lots of insights into climate change, indigenous rights, and how people live off the land amid some of the most challenging conditions on earth. The programme offers a unique perspective on the challenges faced by farmers in different cultures and environments, highlighting the importance of sustainable farming practices and the need to protect indigenous communities and their land.
Overall, ‘Faraway Fields – The Hardest Harvest’ is a must-watch for anyone interested in farming, sustainability, and cultural exchange. The programme offers a fascinating insight into the lives of farmers around the world and the challenges they face, while also highlighting the resilience and ingenuity of those who work the land.