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Bathinda

Posted at: Jun 14, 2019, 7:03 AM; last updated: Jun 14, 2019, 7:04 AM (IST)

Rates up, paddy farmers eye cheap labour in Delhi

Sameer Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 12

A shortage of labour has intensified in the region as the paddy transplantation season officially began on Thursday.

Braving the scorching heat, many farmers from the Malwa region throng the Bathinda railway station to hire farm labourers these days. After being failed to convince labourers to work in their fields at a low rate, a few of them have even decided to visit Delhi to hire farm labourers this year.

Talking to Bathinda Tribune, Jasbeer Singh, a farmer from Thuliwal village in Barnala district, has been visiting the Bathinda railway station for the past three days, but he could not strike a deal with farm labourers. They are adamant on increasing the labour rates this year.

Jasbeer, who owns 50 acres, had been hiring same labourers for the past four years. Anticipating a shortage of farm labourers, Jasbeer had paid Rs15,000 to them in advance in May. But to his dismay, the labourers did not turn up for paddy transplantation on June 10 and they even switched off their mobile phones.

He said, “Last year, I had paid Rs2,400 per acre for paddy transplantation, but this year migrant labourers are demanding Rs3,500 which is way higher. I will wait till tomorrow afternoon to strike a fair deal with farm labourers and if they do not reduce the rates, I will travel to Delhi to hire other labourers. A farmer from our village has managed to hire nine farm labourers from Delhi who agreed to work on Rs2,800 for per acre.”

Another farmer Nazam Singh from Bhokhra village in Bathinda, who owns 34 acres, said, “Apart from high rates, farm labourers are also demanding arrangement of soap, gas cylinder, gas stove, fan, bed and food. I will wait for a day or two to convince labourers. Otherwise, I will have to travel to other cities, including Delhi, in this regard.”

Santokh from Goniana Mandi said, “I am ready to pay Rs2,800 to Rs2,900 for one acre. After spending four days negotiating with migrant labourers in the sweltering heat here, for once I thought of paying the amount of their choice, but later I dropped the idea. I realised that it would escalate the input cost, thereby denting my profit margins severely.”

While migrant labourers are demanding Rs3500 per acre for paddy transplantation, a majority of the farmers do not want to pay more than Rs3,000.

Daleep Kumar, a farm labourer, said, “The rate for paddy transplantation increases every year. If farmers are expecting us work on the same rates, it is not possible. The farmers get good profit margins on per acre so why cannot they pay Rs3,500, which is a miniscule part of their profit margins. Moreover, it is not easy to transplant paddy when there is the scorching heat outside.”

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