Tribune News Service
Amritsar, April 7
A farm worker from Bengal, Alam, wakes up at 6 every morning to tend to the buffalo of a schoolteacher. His work includes giving feed to the buffalo and milking it. The owner has given his land on lease. “The family gives me Rs1,500 per month for the work I do. For farm workers, the days are dull until the harvesting begins,” he said. He said he tries to finish his work by 8 am and after having tea offered by the family, leaves for his day’s work.
Alam, along with six others from Bengal, lives on the farmhouse of a landlord residing nearby. “The accommodation is free but during the peak of the harvesting season, paddy transplanting season or sugarcane harvesting season, we first prefer to do our landlords’ work than accepting work of other farmers,” he said. He said there is no shortage of work for farm workers but it is tough. “Until the harvesting season, we work with different farmers; sometimes attending to the vegetable fields and sometimes carrying out other works,” he said, adding that in villages, people offer them all kinds of work. He saidat most of the migrant workers also prefer to work in cities.
“The people in Punjab, including those from farm worker families, now prefer to work at shops, grain markets or other such places. There is always a demand for farm hands,” he said, adding that now, most of the farm workers are not hired for a day’s labour. “We are paid as per our work. We charge Rs20 for fertilising the fields and Rs30 per hour for removing weeds from fields,” he said.
The work was tough and there are no fixed working hours. “Depending on the season, we have to work till late. The paddy transplanting season is the toughest but is the most rewarding. A good farm hand can make up to Rs800 a day in the transplanting season,” he said.
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