Severe shortage of farm hands for a variety of reasons is said to be the reason
MADEPALLI (WEST GODAVARI DT.): For Vannemreddy Ramu, a paddy farmer from this habitation on the peripheries of Kolleru, the ‘magic machine’ chugs in the much-needed relief from acute shortage of farm hands in the current rabi.
Two works in one go
The tractor-mounted harvester with reapers and threshers has made easy his twin works of harvesting and threshing in one go.
“I would have spent sleepless nights in view of shortage of farm hands in this season but for this machine,” says Ramu, who raised paddy on 10 acres.
The machine, hired from an agency in Gudivada in the neighbouring Krishna district, helps him reduce the cost of harvesting and threshing when compared to the manual labour. “It saves both my time and cost,” he observes.
The paddy growers, both in the delta and in the upland parts in the district, are faced with a great demand for farm hands. Diversification of the agricultural workers in villages surrounding Eluru into the lucrative hair-processing activity is said to be one of the major reasons for the labour problem.
Besides, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme has reportedly aggravated the manpower shortage in agriculture, especially in the delta parts, forcing the farmers to go in for mechanised farming on a larger scale by way of engaging harvesters in paddy and sugarcane fields.
The use of harvesters and transplanters, which was once confined to the upland tracts, is now fast spreading to the delta region too, thanks to the NREGP.
According to information, around 200 harvesters are at work in the current rabi in different parts of the district regardless of stiff resistance from the outfits of farm workers.
As an answer to the manpower shortage, the administration proposes to extend financial help to farmers for purchase of harvesters and transplanters with 50 per cent subsidy offered by the government to promote mechanisation in agriculture.
The government’s help has failed reach the farmers in the current season, thanks to the model code in force.
Ravi, president of the CPI (M)-affiliated Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham sees a disaster in store for the agricultural workers in view of the trend. The workers would find work for only 80 days during the year in the delta. Now, the machines would deprive them of their livelihood, he said.