Kerala

Shortage of harvesting machines puts Wayanad farmers in a fix

Paddy harvesting has been delayed in Wayanad district this season owing to dearth of workers and machines. Since around 70% of the machines that reached the district were wheel drive harvesters, farmers could not use them in waterlogged paddy fields.

Paddy harvesting has been delayed in Wayanad district this season owing to dearth of workers and machines. Since around 70% of the machines that reached the district were wheel drive harvesters, farmers could not use them in waterlogged paddy fields.

Even as time is ripe to begin preparations for the second crop (Punja) in Wayanad, a majority of paddy fields are yet to be harvested owing to shortage of workers and harvesting machines.

Shortage of workers for harvesting is a major concern for farmers in the district, and the arrival of harvesting machines from Salem in Tamil Nadu was their mainstay.

But the dearth of harvesting machines this season has driven thousands of farmers in Panamaram, Kottathara, Meenangadi, Mananthavady, Thirunelli, Thariyodu, Noolpuzha, Vellamunda, Padinharethara, Sulthan Bathery, Nenmeni, Muttil and Ambalavayal grama panchayats into crisis.

“Though the machines had reached the district by the end of November as usual, farmers could not utilise them owing to unseasonal rain,” said Praseed Kumar Thayyil, a progressive farmer from Nambikolli.

Since around 70% of the machines that reached the district were wheel drive harvesters, farmers could not use them for harvest in waterlogged paddy fields. Now, the services of the remaining harvesters are available in the district, he added.

Meanwhile, farmers complained that middlemen who brought the machines from Salem had been exploiting them by demanding exorbitant charges for the machines. “Last year, we had paid ₹2,200 a machine for an hour’s harvest. Now, middlemen are charging ₹2,700 to ₹3,000,” a farmer said.

Though Nenmeni and Noolpuzha grama panchayats had fixed the charge of the harvester at ₹2,500 an hour, farmers were forced to pay ₹2,750 after middlemen tried to shift the machines to other parts of the district.

“I had paid ₹8,500 to workers for harvesting on my land owing to shortage of machines,” said Gopi Keezhanikkal, a farmer from Meenangadi. Moreover, the daily wages of women workers too went up considerably this year from ₹350 to ₹400 a day. Though the district panchayat owns two harvesters, farmers never get them in time, he added.

District panchayat president Samshad Markkar told The Hindu that steps would be taken to address issues facing the farming community next season. “We are planning to procure some more harvesters next season and adopt steps to minimise the involvement of middlemen,” he said.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 11:42:54 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/shortage-of-harvesting-machines-puts-wayanad-farmers-in-a-fix/article38181080.ece