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Women, children forced to transplant paddy owing to labour shortage

BATHINDA: Owing to shortage of labour, women and children make up a large part of the manpower engages in paddy transplantation in the fields.

Women, children forced to transplant paddy owing to labour shortage

Women transplant paddy in Bathinda. A Tribune photograph

Sukhmeet Bhasin

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 25

Owing to shortage of labour, women and children make up a large part of the manpower engages in paddy transplantation in the fields. As paddy sowing is in full swing in the region, farmers of various villages here have been hit hard by shortage of labourers.

According to farmers, a large number of labourers belonging to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, were away to their respective hometowns and have not returned this time.

The farmers point out that the shortage of labourers have also raised the wage cost considerably, thus adding to the over input cost. As labourers, who otherwise charge Rs 1,800 for transplanting paddy on an acre, have now started charging Rs 2,500 per acre for the job in the district.

With migrant labour in short supply, women are being engaged in many places to do the job.

Surjit Singh of Gillpati village said besides women, children of local labourers were also being engaged in paddy transplantation as they were free due to their summer vacation. Punjabi labourers, who have in the past decade or so taken up jobs in urban areas, are also being persuaded by farmers to help them out.

Labourers willing to plant paddy are being offered beds with mattresses, home-cooked meals, non-vegetarian food and even liquor, says Gurpal Singh of Naruana village.

Another farmer Hardeep Singh said farmers were also going to neighbouring Rajasthan and Haryana but were coming back empty-handed.

Shingara Singh, a BKU leader, said it was a common practice in Punjab for women to help in paddy transplantation. But this time, the number had increased due to the shortage of migrant labourers.

Jagmeet Singh, a farmer of the Maur Mandi area, said if the heavy rains hit the paddy-growing belt of the state, the demand of domestic and migratory labourers would go up and they could increase their wages further.

Another farmer also claimed that paddy transplanting machines, which were introduced by the State Agriculture Department, could not become popular among the farmers and hence, a large section of them preferred the manual transplantation to mechanised transplantation.

Farmers a worried lot 

According to farmers, a large number of labourers belonging to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, were away to their respective hometowns and have not returned this time. They point out that the shortage of labourers have also raised the wage cost considerably, thus adding to the over input cost. As labourers, who otherwise charge Rs 1,800 for transplanting paddy on an acre, have now started charging Rs 2,500 per acre for the job in the district.

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