MUMBAI: The unprecedented lockdown and the travel restrictions along with it have largely impacted pre-monsoon agricultural activities, almost putting a halt to tilling and sowing.
Kailash Patil, a farmer from North Maharashtra had to delay his pre-monsoon work due to lack of labour. “By mid-May last year, I had sown the cotton seeds by using the drip irrigations. This year there is ample water in our well but there is a shortage of labour. We are yet to finish the tilling work. We used to get labour mostly from Madhya Pradesh, but this year they are not coming due to travel restrictions,” Patil said.
Patil is not alone. The same story has been shared by the majority of large landholding farmers in Maharashtra. They used to engage the migrant works from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh as the agriculture labour for farm activities.
Nanasaheb Patil, farmer leader said that the year 2020 is very tough for several reasons. “The shortage of labour can hamper agriculture productions. More than 50 lakh migrant workers have left Maharashtra in fear of COVID-19. “We got local labour but that is not sufficient. Besides, the local labour works as per their terms and conditions. The shortage of labour has also resulted in a rise in daily wages,” he added.
The agriculture sector is not alone that is facing the labour shortage, the construction sector is another sector where developers are not able to start the construction activities despite easing lockdown and permission in place.
Rajesh Prajapati, spokesperson of Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) CREDAI, the umbrella body of developers in Maharashtra admitted that they are facing a huge labour shortage. “We are pursuing the migrant workers to stay back but they are not in the mood to stay. They want to go back to their home state,” Prajapati said.
He said that the shortage in labour means the residential and commercial projects will get delayed. “We requested the government to extend the deadline of completion of the project so that the developers will not be penalized,” the developer added.