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Scarcity of labour huge concern for Amritsar district farmers

Migrant workers from other states not coming to the state

Scarcity of labour huge concern for Amritsar district farmers

At present, farmers are dependent on local workers most of whom are employed elsewhere. file



Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 8

With the paddy transplantation season about to begin soon, farmers’ worries have started mounting as they are facing an acute shortage of farm workers. They say that migrant workers from other states are not coming to the district. Over the years, migrant workers coming to the state have been a big help for them during the paddy transplantation season and without them, they would not be able to complete the task.

“At present, farmers are solely dependent on local farm workers most of whom are employed elsewhere. Moreover, the work of transplanting paddy saplings is very hard and labourers do not prefer it,” said Gurnam Singh, a farmer.

He said due to the shortage of labourers, the cost of paddy transplantation has already increased manifold. “In villages near the city where labourers have more options to work elsewhere, farmers had to pay over Rs 4,500 per acre last year. This year, considering the shortage again, farmers may have to shell out more money,” said Sahib Singh of Malawali village.

He said farmers start booking labourers weeks ahead of the paddy transplantation season so that they do not have to face problem, but this year, workers are not available in sufficient numbers.

Though the government has been promoting mechanical transplanting and the direct seeding rice (DSR) technique to find a solution to the shortage of labour for the past many years, still a majority of the farmers go for the manual transplantation process instead of the mechanised one. “Paddy transplanting techniques are costly and most of the farmers do not have access to these. Besides, it requires preparing a special type of nursery of seedlings, which most farmers are not accustomed to,” said an agriculture official, adding that the department organises training sessions to educate farmers on these techniques.

As per estimates of the Agriculture Department, paddy would be cultivated on nearly 1.80 lakh hectares in the district.

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