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Bathinda: Farmers make a beeline for railway station to hire migrant labour

Bathinda: Farmers make a beeline for railway station to hire migrant labour

Labourers arrive at the Bathinda railway station for the paddy season.

Tribune News Service

Sukhmeet Bhasin

Bathinda, June 14

As the paddy transplantation season kicks off in the state, the Bathinda railway station has become a bustling hub of activity. The scene is marked by a surge of farmers making a beeline to secure migrant labourers arriving from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

This annual migration is crucial to the agricultural operations in the region, highlighting the interdependence between Punjab’s farmers and the workforce from these states.

Paddy transplantation is labour-intensive

  • The paddy transplantation season in the state, which typically begins in mid-June, is labour-intensive and requires a substantial workforce. Migrant labourers are preferred for their expertise and experience in paddy cultivation
  • With mechanisation not yet fully replacing manual labour in this sector, the dependency on migrant workers remains high
  • This seasonal migration has been a tradition for decades, forming a symbiotic relationship between labourers and farmers

In recent days, the Bathinda railway station has seen a significant influx of trains arriving from UP and Bihar. These trains, packed with migrant workers, are a common sight during the paddy transplantation season.

The workers, often travelling long distances under challenging conditions, disembark to a flurry of activity as farmers eagerly await their arrival.

Farmers in Bathinda, like in many parts of Punjab, face a challenging period each year to ensure that they secure enough labour for the timely transplantation of paddy. With mechanisation not yet fully replacing manual labour in this sector, the dependency on migrant workers remains high. The anticipation of labor shortages often drives farmers to take proactive measures.

We depend on their expertise

Labourers arrival brings relief & hope. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to manage the transplantation on time. They are skilled and hardworking, and we depend on their expertise. —Amarjeet Singh, a farmer

Seasonal work is our lifeline

The work is tough, but the wages help support my family back home. It’s a journey we have to make every year, but it’s worth it. This seasonal work is our lifeline. —Rakesh Kumar, A migrant labourer from Bihar

Many farmers arrive at the railway station hours before the trains are scheduled, hoping to be the first to secure labourers. They come equipped with offers of immediate employment, transportation, food, and lodging – incentives to attract workers to their fields. The competition can be fierce, with farmers from nearby villages also vying for the same pool of laborers. Paddy transplantation is a critical agricultural activity in Punjab, one of India’s leading rice-producing states. The economic implications are significant, not just for the farmers but also for the labourers who rely on this seasonal work for their livelihoods. Migrant workers typically engage in paddy transplantation for about a month, earning daily wages that are crucial for their financial stability.

Farmers are willing to pay competitive wages to ensure the timely completion of transplantation, which directly affects the yield and quality of the crop. Delays can lead to reduced yields and financial losses, making the procurement of labor a top priority.

The process of hiring migrant workers is not without challenges. Language barriers, cultural differences, and sometimes exploitative practices can create a difficult environment for the labourers. However, over the years, many farmers and workers have developed a mutual understanding and trust, which facilitate smoother interactions.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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