Labour shortage delays ragi harvesting further

The heavy rain during the first week of the month forced the farmers to put off harvesting work. The crop was also destroyed in several places in the district. Now, even after about 10 days since the rain stopped, farmers are still unable to harvest the crop, as there are no workers available.

In many places, labour is available, but very expensive. The farmers are only struggling to win over the workers in whatever way possible and get them to harvest the crop.

Quick work gets slow
In Sangondahalli in the taluk, the crop grown on the three acres of land belonging to Anandappa was all ready for harvesting. “However, heavy rain forced us to postpone harvesting and the crop was destroyed. Now, as there are no workers available, members of our family all joined hands to finish the work,” said Sampath Kumar, Anandappa's son.

Speaking to this Deccan Herald correspondent on Tuesday, Kumar added, “A ragi crop grown on three acre land can be harvested in just a week's time. But, since we are forced to rely on our own selves, we have not finished even after 10 days. Four women workers were available a few days ago, which increased the speed of harvesting a little.”
Kumar said the minimum pay for women workers was Rs 80 a day. “Now, however, we don't get workers even if we offer Rs 130 a day.”

Multiple reasons
He explained that many of the agricultural workers in rural areas have started working in brick factories, creating a major shortage of agricultural labour.

R Chowda Reddy, a farmer in Panasamakanahalli in Srinivaspur taluk said the number of people in rural areas who are full-time agricultural workers has lessened considerably.
“Many of the workers have also become landowners. They do not have time to work on other farmers' land after that,” Reddy added.

Other ways
Some of the farmers in the district seemed to have anticipated such a situation and completed harvesting by the last week of October. They too, however, had cited high rate charged by workers as a reason for early harvesting.

Nagappa, a farmer with three acres of land in Dodnahalli, has paid Rs 6,000 to contractors to harvest the ragi crop this year. “Last year, we used to harvest the crop ourselves, but labour was also much cheaper. This year, however, since workers are not available I have had to turn to contractors,” he explained.

Volunteering help
Farmers in neighbouring areas, who have already finished harvesting crops on their land are lending helping hands, lightening the situation a little. “They are also not demanding labour charges to help us,” said Reddy, appreciating the system of voluntary harvesting.
“It will help us through the problem of shortage of labour this year,” he added.

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