Farmers look for less labour-intensive options for sowing - ECAS Punjab

Farmers look for less labour-intensive options for sowing

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Aman Sood
Tribune News Service
Patiala, May 20

The recent exodus of workers due to the lockdown has put paddy growers in a difficult situation. They are now looking at local labour and direct seeding of paddy for less labour-intensive farm operations.

In many villages, rich landlords who usually depended on migrant labour to transplant paddy are already looking for alternatives to sow paddy on 29.30 lakh hectares. Additionally, this year, the number of mechanised paddy transplantation machines has doubled to about 1,100 and farm unions are also advocating the use of these machines to help farmers reduce labour pangs.

"I have tried getting in touch with many of my labour contractors who have been coming year after year. However, none of them is willing to come this season. So, I have decided to go for direct seeding which has greater accuracy as compared to conventional transplanted rice. It gives the best yield and quality when sowing is done in June," said Jagdish Singh Garcha, a landlord.

"Paddy was grown on 29.30 lakh hectares in Punjab last year. The state has decided to shift 2.50 lakh hectares from paddy to other crops this year. In addition, a new method of paddy sowing called the direct seeding of rice has been recommended by the Punjab Agricultural University and the government proposes to bring 5 lakh hectares under this system that does not require intensive labour," said Secretary, Agriculture, Kahan Singh Pannu.

Farm unions and paddy experts told The Tribune that the technology would save irrigation water, labour and power in contrast to the conventional method of raising a rice nursery and then transplanting seedlings in a water-filled field.

"Barring some hiccups, sufficient rural labour in Punjab is available to fill the vacuum created by the unavailability of migrant labour as has been demonstrated in the wheat procurement operation this season. Fortunately, migrant labour engaged with potato and vegetable growing farmers is available in rural areas which will be engaged in the transplantation of paddy also," Pannu said.

from The Tribune

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