Labour crisis worries Boro farmers in Jashore

Farmers of Jashore have become worried about the shortage of labour during this Boro paddy harvesting season.

According to the district department of agricultural extension, a total of one lakh 85 thousand 505 hectares of Boro lands have been cultivated this year. Paddy production is also satisfactory in the district. But the labour shortage has become a cause of concern for growers. Jashore farmers have so far harvested only 30 per cent of the Boro paddy.

Every year an acute labour crisis hits the farmers across the country during the Boro paddy harvesting period. Farmers eagerly wait for the labourers to come from the northern districts including Rangpur and Dinajpur.

But, due to financial solvency and alternative employment opportunities, the number of labourers is decreasing during Boro harvesting time. As a result, the demand for local labourers has increased in every district of the country. Jashore is no exception to it.

Farmers said local labourers are demanding extra wages for paddy harvest. Some of them are taking advance payment and working half the day taking advantage of the labour crisis. Labourers are being benefited from that. On the other hand, farmers are counting extra money for paddy harvest which will add to the additional cost of the total rice production.

Expert labour of Jashore is charging Tk 1,000 for half-day work and working at two fields of two separate farmers. His daily net income rises to Tk 2,000. Nevertheless, farmers are not getting enough labour in time to cut their ripe paddy.

Abdul Khaleque, farmer of Hanua village under Monirampur upazila, said he has cultivated two bighas of land. But due to labour shortage, he could not harvest his paddy yet.

“I have booked some labours today with advance payment. They will cut my Boro paddy at their convenient time. This is not fair. But, I am bound to keep their conditions to save my paddy from further loss.”

Echoing him, farmer Sohanur Rahman of Sirajsingha village of the same upazila said, the rate of day labour was Tk 800 before Eid. Now he cannot get the schedule of the labours even offering Tk 1,000.

This week’s cyclone ‘Ashani’ increased their workload as farmers feared that a hit can destroy their crops within a few minutes.

Farmers made frantic efforts to harvest the Boro paddy before rainfall caused by the ‘Ashani’. All farmers want to cut their paddy at a time which puts pressure on the labour market. Labourers are also taking advantage of the crisis.

Meanwhile, some volunteer organisations of the district have been harvesting the Boro paddy of the poor farmers free of cost.

Around 50-60 volunteers led by Haibatpur union parishad member Abdur Rahim, have harvested 10 bighas Boro paddy which came to the attention of the area. Youths of the Uttar Lalidah are also harvesting the Boro paddy of the poor villagers.

Sheikh Sajjad Hossain, agriculture officer of Jashore sadar upazila said, “Farmers of the district have already harvested 30 per cent Boro crop. I hope they can cut the entire paddy within the next 10 days.”

Confirming the acute labour crisis, Sajjad said only the use of the latest technology-based harvester can resolve the problem.

The government is providing subsidized harvesters to the farmers, he added.

Source: United News of Bangladesh