Shortage of farm labour affects transplantation this kharif
HYDERABAD: Although the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) has benefited agricultural labour assuring them of a minimum payment of at least Rs.100 a day, it has given rise to a problem -- shortage of farm labour for paddy transplantation.
This shortage is being felt since last year. To overcome this rather precarious situation, the Agriculture Department in coordination with Acharya N.G.Ranga Agriculture University is introducing machines -- termed mat nursery -- from this kharif season in East and West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Srikakulam, Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Warangal, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Karimanagar districts.
A senior official of the department said that the mat nursery concept was being introduced at 55 places in the districts. It was tried eight years ago but the need for the mat nursery and rice transplanter in paddy cultivation was not so strongly felt apparently because enough labourers were available then.
Now the situation was different; with less men and women willing to undertake paddy nursery and transplantation work, the stage is set for machines to take over this task. The official said this would cut the cost of cultivation, reduce drudgery, and help avoid health hazards, use the skills of educated youth, promote local entrepreneurship, attract youth to agriculture and protect ecology.
The government plans to provide the machines, which are in the price range of Rs. 2.4 lakh to Rs.12 lakh, to groups such as the self-help groups, Indira Kranti Patham and Rajiv Yuva Shakti on a 50 per cent subsidy.