Labour scarcity hits cotton harvest in Telangana

Farmers from Kurnool working in a cotton field at Jukal near Narayanakhed in Sangareddy district.

Farmers from Kurnool working in a cotton field at Jukal near Narayanakhed in Sangareddy district.   | Photo Credit: Mohd Arif

Farmers from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra working on the fields as labourers

Narayana, a farmer from this village in Narayanakhed mandal has cultivated cotton in about eight acres. So have many of his fellow farmers in the village and all are happy at the bumper yield. But there’s a damper. The crop has come for harvesting at the same time resulting in shortage of labour.

Cotton was cultivated in about 3.45 lakh acres across the district with an estimated yield of 28 lakh quintals. Agriculture officials pointed out that cultivation this season was 59 % more than normal.

In fact, hundreds of labourers came from far off places in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to pluck cotton for the local farmers.

Mala Yellappa is in his early 30s. He has been taking care of his two children — Sai Pallavi and Sindhu Priya — while his wife and other relatives are plucking cotton balls in the adjacent field in Jukal village in Narayanakhed mandal. About 20 persons from Parlapally village in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh, have travelled some 400 kilometres, to work on the fields for cotton plucking.

Paltry pickings

They are paid ₹ 8 per kg of cotton balls collected. The families are lodged in temporary huts covered with blue plastic sheets on the village outskirts. They are all camping here from the beginning of this month and may stay for another two weeks. While scohol-going children are left behind in their native places in the custody of grandparents, smaller ones are brought along.

Yellappa has been regular to this area for the past five years and he may be forced to come again if the rain god is unkind next year.

Wage labour

“There are no rains and no irrigation facilities in our area forcing us to work as migrant labour. We work here for about two months and then move to Guntur to pluck chillies after Pongal. Then some of us will go to Bangaluru and Kapdapa in search of work. We hardly stay two or three months in our village,” rued Pulikanti Urukunda, the team leader who brought them here.

“I am staying and working in Hyderabad for the past several years as farming in our area is not remunerative due to lack of rains and irrigation. I have already sold about eight acres of land, each for ₹ 1 lakh or less, to meet my family expenses,” said B. Venkatramudu from the same village. Ditto is the case of Narasimhulu, owner of about 10 acres, who was forced to migrate for similar reasons.

Similarly, a family of 10 came from Deglur in Nanded district of Maharashtra to work in the field of their relatives, and were paid an amount of ₹ 10 per kg. They work from morning to evening, and make about ₹ 800 per day. One Patel Chandrakanth brought them here.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 2:53:15 AM |

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