Agriculture World

Agriculture is the New Form of Work

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

Many farmers in Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are trying to assemble local labourers to prepare nursery beds and sow paddy because they are all very labour-intensive work. 

Costs can go up further if the labour shortage remains. Paddy transplantation is an intensive process that will require 5-6 lakh labourers in each state over and above the domestic supply. 

Labour cost in West Bengal, which is the largest producer of rice has doubled. The local labourers are demanding higher rates due to the crisis pandemic has cost to every industry. 

Paddy is the most important Kharif crop in India. The sowing begins in June and stretches till July depending upon the arrival of the monsoon. Paddy requires planting and replanting. First, the nursery beds are prepared to grow the saplings. Subsequently, they are taken out of the nursery beds and replanted in the fields. This makes it very labour intensive. 

While in Bihar, the government has procured more than 20 lakh tonnes paddy throughout April, which js the highest in six years. 

This would further help the state government to provide free ration to the poor, including thousands of migrant workers who have returned to their towns and villages in Bihar, facing long-term unemployment because of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To further blend the problem, the State Food Corporation (SFC) is not taking rice from the primary agriculture cooperative societies and trade board, that have procured the paddy directly from 2.50 lakh farmers in each panchayat, according to the Bihar's Agricultural Department. 

The Kerala government's program 'Subhiksha Keralam' which aims to combat food scarcity in the state, the state agriculture department has started converting fallow lands into farms. The government is targeting around 25,000 hectares of fallow land to convert to farms.  

Subhiksha Keralam is a convergence scheme where all the departments are merging together. The government is trying to create good models of integrated farming so that expenditure is reduced and income is more. 

While the Karnataka government is planning to boost tourism and help farmers at the same time. The state government is contemplating 'agri-tourism' which will be conducted soon in two districts. 

The initiative will be taken up in coordination with tourism, horticulture and agriculture departments. Apart from highlighting rural culture, the guidelines will be designed in a way to benefit farmers so that they can be the stakeholders. 

Coming up with a tourism package where tourists would visit all the universities, interact with scientists, visit nearby tourist spots and spend time on farms learning about agriculture were among the top ideas. The basic idea is to get people acquainted with agriculture, rural culture, arts and sports. 

Even in Goa, as the tourism department has dried up, the demand for agriculture has seen a four-fold increase. People are falling back to traditional agricultural methods to tide over the economic crisis of the state. 

According to the Goa Agricultural Department, they have already sold 800 kilograms of vegetable seeds this year, which is a 25 per cent increase as compared to the previous years. 

The Goa government has recommended an economic revival plan for each village further suggesting all panchayats to identify potential activities within the village to provide livelihoods to the people. The activities relate to horticulture, poultry, dairy, fishing and revival of micro and small scale industries as well as traditional arts. 

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