Monday 5 March 2012

Farm Labors, Changes in work Culture and Wages: Diversify and Command your Farm

       Well, farm labor shortage has been narrated several times in my earlier posts so, I’ll be covering less of intervening reason of labor shortages rather this is an insight into the changes in farm work culture and wages rates in the rural Tripura.
       Now-a-days, women farm labor employment is becoming very costly due to  shortage due to non-willingness to work in farm and  increased wages.
Wage rate of women farm labor (un-skilled) is rupees two hundred per day and men farm labor! It is speculative and imaginative.
       Some may feel rupees two hundred per day are very less at the time when essential commodities are high in price. But here at rural Tripura, rupees two hundred for women farm labor is quite is high.
     It is owing to the fact that farm now-a-days is becoming non-competitive, profit margin is very less or no profit at all whereas; wages is mounting pressure to many farmers already spiraling under farm crisis due to non-competitiveness of farming.
       In addition, farm labor output is also declining due to changes in work culture exhibited by the farm labors in the rural areas.
       Changes in work culture denotes; the scheduled working hours in the farm in the present context with relation to the situation in the earlier days. Well, the self consciousness, self righteousness and their awakening are fine and welcome worthy but it should not one sided.
       The fact is; the changes should not be at the cost of other. Now, farm works starts at the morning eight to eight thirty and winds up by five afternoons. In between of course, there are several breaks; lunch or rest beaks for the farm labors.
      The result is; the net working hours remains only six to seven hours per day. It is within that short working hours some works related to farm operation is done.
       Farm activities(traditional cropping)is already dwindling, especially farm related to field crops, farm becoming non-competitive and, it is very difficult to continue farming with the present state of condition. Farming at present is continuing with subsistence type where there is no sign of profitability and competitiveness.
       Additionally, this shift in work culture, farm labor shortage and increased wages of farm labor has further pushed the farm to the oblivion from where there is least chance to return with good prospect and competitiveness unless any radical changes comes around.
       To cope up from the ensuing multiple crisis, some farmers tried to get the farm works done on contract basis. That is being done to complete the particular farm operation; specific work or farm operation is given to some farm labors on contract basis based on negotiation without considering the total farm labor requirement and their subsequent total wage involvement.
       Now, what is the way out to continue with farm in the given situation?
       Well, there is already hue and cry whenever there is farm crisis occurring either due to surplus production or crop loss. Many suggest for support price for ensuring farmers gets some relief instead of subjecting their whole produce to rot or sold cheaply.
     There is also persuasion for regulated market, it is to harness the different market realization of different agricultural produce and also, ensuring sufficient storage structure for storing the surplus produce in time.
      These are the certain things that make a movement whenever there is crisis related to farming. And, farmers debt, cry for affordable loan or credit facility are also the given demands for solving the crisis.
       But, the question is; will all these points or demands solve these incurring problems that farmer faces now? The answer may be quite hypothetical as may be to a certain extent.
       Another point is; the whole issues of changes in work culture and increased farm labor wages actually become prominent in absence of unit productivity of the given crops and its subsequent affect in farm profitability.
       Farm labor has the right to demand the increased wages but the fact is; he is least bothered about farm productivity. Wages in the prevailing market condition for essential commodities are hardly excessive or it is less than sufficient but how do you relate this it has nothing with farm productivity as far as farm labor is concerned.
       Well, farm work culture and increased wages are going to stay and expected move upwards in future too but real challenge is farm optimization.
    It is only with the farm optimization though diversified farm activities that competitiveness would come and farmers can command over the farm.
                                             Agritangkol dated 05.03.2012

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