Punjab farmers facing migrant labourers crunch in fields

July 6th, 2008 - 9:36 pm ICT by ANI  

By Sunil Sharma
Chandigarh, July 6 (ANI): Hundreds of farmers in Punjab are facing hardship in tending the crops due to the absence of farmhands mostly from the Gangetic plains of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh who earlier used to work as labourers for them.
There is crunch of labourers for sowing of seeds, tending the fields crops and later harvesting them since the migrant labourers, who were often available to work here, have started playing truant.
These farmhands used to arrive here as labourers in the fields during paddy sowing season. But now due to getting better wages, work and education at their native places, they are no more interested to come to Punjab.
“The labourers earn money in the day and in the evening for a decent amount and now the have taken to studies in their States. They get paid for learning by attending the classes being conducted for adult education,” said Jitendra, a migrant labour
Hence, a lot of farmers in Punjab are left with no option but work in fields by themselves for works like sowing and transplantation of paddy. They have no help from migrant labourers who in earlier seasons were easily available.
The situation is so bad for Punjabi farmers who had got used to taking help from Bihari workers, that three to four villages now have just about just two to four labourers. And, Punjabi farmers have no choice but to share their service in turns.
In districts like Fatehgarh Sahib, Mohali and Patiala which are close to Chandigarh, many farmers can be seen toiling hard in their fields with no labourers to help them.
Besides, the problem has become acute in these three Districts, as the available labourers have been engaged by farmers in Jalandhar and Amritsar where the sowing work started late due to certain government directives.
“Earlier, farmers used to come from Amritsar, Bhatinda but now the transplantation is late which has delayed them to enter districts near Chandigarh. Also their daily wages have been increased,” said Ravin Singh, one farmer.
The situation has worsened so much in the fields that the there are hardly two to three labourers who can be found in fields now a days. It has also forced the big farmers to increase labourers daily wages.
Agricultural experts say that this trend is a positive thing for the Punjabi farmers, who will now be start depending upon themselves and lessen their dependence on migrant labourers.
“The society should think about it as now the young generations interest in sundry activities could be shifted to work needed in farms. Labour is not required when you can do the work yourself,” said Ajit Singh, one agricultural expert. (ANI)

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