The ins and outs of: Food and Farming
Along with Prestige and Bricks, Food is one of the basic elements of your city. People need food to buy the things they want and while they are able to forage food themselves, they will get unhappy without a nice, freshly baked chunk of bread in the morning. You, as Pharaoh, need food for trade and wages and to enhance your palace, but that is just a minor cost. In this article, I will explain some details about food, about farming and about the other ways to get food.
How food is used
First, I will explain what food is used for. In Children of the Nile people need food to buy the goods they want, but they do not need to pay for any services they require. The only service that requires to be paid for is that of the entertainer, but this is limited to Nobles only. You don’t really have to worry about your Farmers, Servants, Shopowners, Entertainers and Nobles if the harvest goes as planned: the food the Farmers and Nobles get from the harvest will be used to pay the Servants, Shopowners and Entertainers, who will then be able to eat and buy the goods they need.
You do have to worry about Labourers, Soldiers, Craftsman, Priests, Scribes, Overseers and Commanders. These people don’t have anything to sell, either because their goods are for the government or because they don’t make anything at all, but provide services instead. The exceptions here are the Gardener and the Shipwright. They both produce goods (yachts and plants) your Nobles are interested in, but like with Tombs, you provide these goods as a service to them. Papyrus can be used for trade as well as by Priests and Scribes, but they don’t pay for the papyrus. So in the end, all these people will have to be paid by you, with your food, gained by your share of the harvest.
The Labourers, Soldiers, Craftsmen and Educated Elite are supplied through your Bakeries, Bakers being craftsmen theirselves don’t need a bakery to supply them with bread. On the harvest overview screen, you will notice that the workers will need a certain amount of food. That is the minimum these people need. If more food is available at the bakeries, count on it that they will pick up more.
Furthermore, expect to spend a lot of food on trade. Actually, I think you will spend more food on imports and opening World Level Sites than you’ll spend in your city. If you can’t mine gems, metals, granite, basalt, limestone or fine limestone yourself, you will have to establish a quarry somewhere else in Egypt. This will cost some food (and other resources) to set up, but this will also require regular shipments of food as upkeep. Cities that are not owned by the government usually require something else than food, but virtually anything you conduct on the world map will involve food one way or another. Especially military campaigns and monuments will require you to save up some food.
An efficient farming system
Now that you know what food is used for, I will explain how to maximize the efficiency of farming and how to increase your harvest. It’s best to have a highly efficient farming system in your city, but often the terrain doesn’t always permit high efficiency due to distances to the floodplain or small patches of floodplain stretched out along the Nile. There’s more to farming than meets the eye. You will have to take into consideration: the distance to the floodplain for Farmers and Scribes, the number of Nobles, the number of farms supported, what the Nobles are growing and how much time the Farmers have for getting in their harvest. A badly timed festival can literally ruin your harvest.
The ideal farming system has Farmers right next to the floodplain, Scribes with papyrus at regular intervals along the floodplain (to ensure coverage, but prevent overlapping) and enough time for both to do their jobs properly. Along with that, you can maximize your harvest by toying around with the Nobles. You can set the nobles to grow all kinds of food or only wheat, only barely or only vegetables. 1 wheat field yields more food that 1 barley field and 1 barley field yields more food than 1 vegetable field.
This option can be incredibly useful. If you are short on food, set one or more of your nobles to grow wheat only. Your harvest will then be bigger than it would be when all nobles would grow everything. There is just one downside to this. People will have happy with just bread, but the less variety there is in their diet, the more prone they are to illness. You might think that this is no problem if your healthcare works fine, but keep in mind that the time people spend on visiting hospital, could be used for something more useful as well! I recommend that you set all Nobles to grow everything and only when you’re running low on food or want more food for a military campaign, you should let the Nobles grow wheat.
After your farmers harvested their field, you will want to make sure that all that belongs to you, gets stored. Food that is not stored after your harvest will lay in the threshing area for everyone to pick up, it will be spoiled. One bakery can hold 500 food, one granary can hold 2000 food. If your last harvest yielded 2000 food, just build another granary to make sure all your food gets stored, no matter how many bakeries you have. If your last harvest yielded 4000 food, build 2 granaries etc. etc.
A last thing about farming I would like to talk about is migration. Farmers are less like to move away from their fields during the harvesting and planting season. However, there’s a chance that they will migrate to a better job during these seasons and to make sure you lose no food at all, which is rather important in your early days, try to create new jobs only during the flood.
More ways to get food
There are more ways to get some food into your city, namely: import, taxes on private homes and taxing merchants. All of these are, in my opinion, minor additions to your harvest at most. The positive thing is that they are not bound to seasons, but the food they generate is really not more than a fraction of your harvest. Besides, many missions don’t even allow you to import food and when planning your city, don’t take into account the fact that you might be able to import some food.
The concept of importing food is rather simple. You export a finished product and in return, they will pay you with food. Just like you send out food to receive raw materials. Taxing the merchants is done by scribes. For every transaction they make (everytime someone buys something from them) a part of the food involved goes to the government. Don’t get merchants to your city to get rich from them, get them to your city to make your elite happier. In my opinion, taxing the private homes can actually be useful in times of need, but keep in mind that the people you draw taxes from will be extremely unhappy when you do so.
Sometimes you will notice that there is food in your storage areas. This is the food that is being paid by the people who need the raw materials you imported. This is not extra income, this is just a little compensation for your investment. An Exchange does not increase the food the buyers leave behind nor does it make sure everyone pays what they ought to. All shopowners (but not craftsmen) will pay for raw materials, an Exchange only saves them the walk to the storage area.