Hit by acute labour shortage and unavailability of skilled labour

Mechanisation of agriculture is gaining momentum in the district, due to acute labour shortage, unavailability of skilled labour and steep increase in wages and other expenses.

With farming activities picking up in the district, particularly in Cumbum valley, farm owners have been struggling to get farm workers for labour-intensive activities like transplantation, weeding and other farm related works.

Migration of labour to other sources of livelihood activities and availability of less labour intensive jobs has escalated shortage of manpower on farms and has forced farmers go in for machines.

The Department of Agriculture has roped in the farming community to propagate farm mechanization. Farmers’ Cooperative Groups have been constituted under the National Agriculture Development Programme to hire farm equipment at reasonable fare.

The State Government offers farm equipment like power tillers, transplanting machines and weed remover to these groups with cent per cent subsidy. The group then hires out these machines to farmers at an affordable cost.

“The amount got is utilised for maintenance of machineries and for fuel”, said S. Gnanaprakasam, Agro Engineer at Agro Engineering Department.

The group members undertake operation, maintenance or minor repairs and management of agricultural machinery.

Collector K.S. Palanisamy handed over four paddy transplanting machines at a cost of Rs.6.59 lakh and weed removers at cost of Rs.4.11 lakh to these four groups on Friday. These will be then hired out to farmers in Theni, Periakulam, Andipatti, Mayiladumparai, Bodi, Chinnamanur, Uthamapalayam and Cumbum unions.

Already, training to operate these machines and do minor repairs was given to group members.

Besides, solar power panel was also given to farmers to operate five HP irrigation pump motors with 80 per cent subsidy to cut down power bill and to encourage renewable energy.

When contacted, Collector K.S. Palanisamy said as small and marginal farmers could not invest heavily on machineries, hiring of these machines will meet their requirement at an affordable cost and keep them in agri-business.