Paddy CROPS: Shortage of agri workers hits paddy harvesting in … – Times of India

S B Sinha | TNN | Updated: Oct 22, 2016, 08:34 IST
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NAWADA: Shortage of skilled workers has hit paddy harvesting across the district. While countries like China, Korea, Taiwan, all predominantly rice-consuming nations, have developed affordable paddy/wheat cutters ranging between Rs 9,000 to Rs 14,000, India is yet to manufacture any such equipment.

Most of the equipment are exported though the Central and the state government provide subsidy.

Nawada district agriculture officer (DAO) Sunil Kumar said though 75% of Indians owe their livelihood to agriculture, no equipment to harvest paddy is being manufactured here. Joint director Ravi Kumar Verma and RAU senior scientist Subhash Chandra echoed the same sentiments.

While equipment like mini paddy/wheat reapers and paddy transplanters can both boost production and income of marginal farmers of Bihar, a farmer loses out almost 40% of his produce on account of manual labour.

Agriculture department sources said migration of workers has virtually crippled agricultural activities in Nawada district. Nearly one-sixth of Nawada’s population (21 lakh), drawn chiefly from the Mahadalit and EBC community migrate to other states between October to June in search of livelihood. Consequently, farmers face a harrowing time when it comes to harvesting paddy and wheat. Although India-made big harvesting machines are available, they cater to big farmers with large tracts of agricultural land. Small and marginal farmers, who have smaller plots, fail to utilize them as these harvesters do not leave behind any hay, a substitute for cattle fodder. Similar is the case with automatic paddy transplanter which costs anything between Rs 2 to Rs 3 lakh.

Nawada DAO said such equipment was the need of the hour but one has to rely on imported ones only.

“The government had invited manufacturers but none agreed to come to Bihar,” said Verma.

Popularly known as ‘bush or grass cutters’, these machines can be purchased from traders in Surat, Indore, Ujjain, Lucknow, Varanasi and several places in West Bengal who import them from China. Since made in China carry the risk of unreliability, small and marginal farmers continue to live at the mercy of fate.

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