CHANDIGARH: Last year, the exodus of migrant labourers to their home towns across India after the announcement of the lockdown in March had affected paddy sowing in Punjab. But this year, paddy farmers in the state have reasons to cheer.
There is labour surplus as farm labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, who had returned to Punjab after the lockdown restrictions were lifted, stayed back despite the deadly second wave of the pandemic as they had faced tough times back home. The surplus labour means charges for paddy transplantation are less compared to last year.
The paddy transplantation began on June 10. Last year, labour charges had doubled due to shortage of farm hands, resulting in a heavy burden on the pocket of the farmers. This year, the labourers are charging anywhere between Rs 2,500 and Rs 4,000 per acre compared to Rs 4,000-Rs 6,000 last year.
Another good news for the farmers is that due to good pre-monsoon showers, they will have to depend less on tube wells for irrigating their fields. "This year there is no labour shortage… Last year, they charged high rates and we had no choice but to pay," said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, a farmer leader who has 50 acres in Ludhiana’s Lakhowal village.
"Last year, the local labourers took advantage of the reverse migration and charged double the prevailing rates as paddy sowing is a specialised job," said Gurvinder Singh, who has 30 acres in Ludhiana’s Kumkalan village.