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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

As paddy sowing begins, heavy rain and surplus labour bring cheer to farmers

Labour charges for paddy transplantation are between Rs 2,700 to 4,000 per acre this year against Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 per acre last year.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
June 11, 2021 10:05:45 am
Punjab, Paddy seasonAs agriculture department fixed June 10 as the date to begin paddy transplantation, labourers plant paddy at Barewal Dogran village in Ludhiana on Thursday. Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh

As paddy transplantation began in Punjab Thursday, heavy pre-monsoon showers and sufficient labour in the fields came as a big booster to farmers sowing the crop.

Over the last 10 days, Punjab has received 172 per cent more rain against the normal required during this period. Labour rates are also reasonable compared to last year.

Labour charges for paddy transplantation are between Rs 2,700 to 4,000 per acre this year against Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 per acre last year, when migrant labourers had returned to their native places in Bihar and UP in large numbers leading to a shortage.

Farmer Balwant Singh Boparai of Ludhiana’s Ghudani Kalan village, who is also a leader of BKU (Ugrahan), said that last year there was no labour available for weeks. “I had a fear that my fields would remain vacant back then, but this time labour is surplus,” he said.

“Last year we could not find a single labourer for almost 10 days even after beginning of paddy transplanting and then arranged it for Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 per acre. Local labourers also took the advantage of the situation and charged 40 to 50 per cent more than the prevailing rates,” said farmer Paramjit Singh of Nakodar, adding that this time they have got surplus labour because of which labourers themselves are charging between Rs 3,000 to 4,000.

Parkash Sahu from Bihar, who was transplanting paddy in a field at village Nurpur Thursday, said that this time labour had returned during wheat procurement season to their respective states, but most of them returned a month or so later to take up the paddy transplanting. “I had faced a tough time last year at my place in Bihar as I could not come to Punjab due to a lockdown,” he said.

“Working in Punjab during paddy season and procurement seasons makes our lives easier back home,” said another labourer Jiten Prasad.

Farmer Manjit Singh, who owns 14 acres of land, of Uddat Bhagat Ram village in Mansa told The Indian Express that they will be paying Rs 3,000 per acre as labourer charge this year.

BKU’s Boparai said that farmers should not grudge paying a little extra to labourers.

“Government should control the private players who are looting farmers. Labourers are not looting them, rather farmers and labourers are indispensable to each other,” added Boparai.

Even farmers from Majha region Devinder Singh of Tarn Taran district and Gurpreet Singh, who is also farmer leader, of village Chhina of Gurdaspur said that there is no shortage of labour in their area this time.

Farm leaders from Bathinda, Jhanda singh Jethuke and Jagsir Singh, both BKU (Ugrahan) leaders, said that the rates are between Rs 3,800 to 4,000 per acre this time.

“Last year both farmers in Punjab and labourers, who had returned, had faced tough times and this time labourers returned to Punjab before beginning of paddy season,” said labour contractor Santosh Kumar.

Rice sowing in Punjab lasts for 40 to 50 days as in June and early July the transplanting of paddy takes place and after that Basmati transplantation starts which continues till July end.

Meanwhile, Thursday saw heavy showers in several districts of the state which will reduce stress on ground water in the paddy season for some days as during paddy sowing even a single day’s heavy rainfall saves huge water as it prevents the running of over 14 lakh electric tubewells that extract millions of litres of water in a single day.

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