As paddy sowing time is round the corner, farmers in Dharmasthala are gearing up to meet labour crunch with a labour exchange system.
Manoj Menezes, Director, Agriculture, Sri Kshethra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP), told The Hindu that as every farmer had to transplant saplings after a few days of sowing, they would be staggering the sowing day so that each one could transplant saplings with shared labour.
Mr. Menezes said that the labour exchange system, “Pragathi Bandhu”, was formed to address the issue of scarcity of labour. Sharing scarce labour was important because even a slight delay in transplanting paddy could lead to loss. He said: “It is critical, very important, or else, the saplings will die in the fields.” Paddy cultivation over an area of one acre of land requires 10 to 15 people at the time of transplanting saplings. “It (labour for agriculture) is an issue. We are facing a labour shortage. Even if we pay high wages, we do not get labour,” he added.
He said participating farmers were all men, who were part of self-help groups (SHGs), each of 10 to 20 members. While some of them owned land and some were landless but all were employed. Most of them were farmers with medium size holdings, 2.5 to 5 acres of land.
Each farmer needed shared labour for one to two days. The farmer would not pay the labour because he was also part of the exchange system that was not new. It had its origin in the local practice called “muiyyaalu”, he said.
With labour exchange, the farmers would not face the problem of shortage of labour. B. Jayarama Nellithaya, Director, Community Development Project, SKDRDP, said that the labour exchange system would be in use in June, when paddy was sown. But this year, the season had been delayed by a month. However, they would be using the same approach in July. At least 1.5 lakh people would use the same approach to deal with shortage of labour, he added.
Keywords: agriculture department