Kerala

Wayanad’s daily wage workers struggle to make ends meet

“We have been struggling for the past many weeks to make both ends meet owing to dearth of work,” says Ammini, 48, a tribal daily wage earner at Karachal in Wayanad district. “My family, including husband and three children, has been surviving mainly on the food kit and free rice being provided by the government to tribespeople,” she adds.

As the monsoon begins, labourers like Ms. Ammini usually find work on ginger, plantain and vegetable farms as well as coffee and tea plantations in the district. But the crisis that has affected the farming sector due to the COVID-related lockdown has rendered a majority of the workers jobless.

“Only a few men from our hamlet got some work in a ginger farm nearly 10 km away from our hamlet, but most of us remain jobless,” says Ms. Ammini.

Though her husband Gopi got two days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme last week, the work temporarily stopped due to heavy rain, she adds.

“While tribespeople are being provided provisions like free rice and wheat from ration shops, the condition of workers in the general category and marginal farmers is quite pathetic since they have to survive solely with the free kit of the State government,” says Rajan, a marginal farmer at Pinangode.

The government has eased lockdown restrictions, but that alone will not make things better for the farming community, he adds.

The closure of many shops during the lockdown and a sharp decline in the price of produce such as coffee, ginger, pepper, plantain, cardamom and tea leaves during the period have put the farming sector in a fix, says Mr. Rajan. It will take time to recover from the crisis, he adds.

As the functioning of business establishments in the district is mainly based on the agrarian community, the crisis in the farming sector will reflect in other sectors too, says A. Abdu, a hill produce dealer.


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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 3:49:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/wayanads-daily-wage-workers-struggle-to-make-ends-meet/article34919011.ece

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