Turistička zajednica grad Metković

Agriculture, trench digging (jendečenje)

Swampland is unsuitable for agriculture and the river carries to the sea immense quantities of very fertile material, leaving just a smaller part in the valley and creating partially arable areas in a narrow belt of some 50 meters around the river bed. In autumn and winter, it flooded the areas sown with corn and planted with tomatoes, cabbage, vines (Plavka and Kadarun), fig, quince, apples. This land and a few karst valleys were insufficient for the needs of the population, so the Neretva farmer dug canals and raised the growing areas above the level of high tide to provide arable land. The process is called jendečenje (from Turkish hendek- trench, canal) and involved hard wok akin to mining by the hand. In autumn or in early spring, from dawn to dusk, some thirty strong men would dig canals 1.5 to 2 metres deep, and 2 to 6 metres wide and often 200 metres. They used long-handled hoes and special large shovels (badilje). They raised the level of the soil by some 80 centime­tres which was just enough to control the water flow between low and high tide. Jendečenje required not only strength but also skill and the men had abundant food and great quan­tities of wine at their disposal. However, they were constantly wet and exposed to brackish water and sultry air, which sapped their energy. They eas­ily fell ill and frequently died young.

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