Harvesting by hand is usually done with a sickle. The plot should have been drained 15 days before harvesting (for irrigated fields). This facilitates moving in the field and, prevent grains from germinating if they are in contact with water and from being soiled by mud, both of which affect paddy quality. The cutting height depends on the post-harvest objective of the farmer (threshing method, selling the straw, etc) and also on the harvesting devices used. Hand-harvesting is tiresome and time-consuming: it requires 15 to 20 people with sickles to harvest one hectare. Harvesting can also be done with knives, and then only the panicles are harvested.
Mechanical devices are seldom used in Africa. AfricaRice together with partners have developed equipment that can facilitate harvesting.
Yield losses are usually relatively high (depending on varieites and on the crop condition), but can be significantly reduced when harvesting is done on time. When harvesting is late, losses can easily reach 15-20% of the production.