Tamilnadu: Paddy harvest on 75,000 acres has been stalled

Farmers’ association vice-chief blames shortage of manpower

CUDDALORE: Shortage of manpower has stalled paddy harvest on 75,000 acres in the tail-end delta region of Kattumannarkoil and Chidambaram blocks, according to V. Kannan, vice-president of Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association.

He told The Hindu that harvest in 50 per cent of the total of 1.5 lakh acres under paddy was affected or was not taking place at all for want of adequate farm hands. The belated harvest would not only reduce the yield but also the quality of grains.

During normal time, the average paddy yield per acre would be 1.25 tonne, but the delayed harvest would cut down the yield prospects by 20 per cent. Therefore, it would lead to an economic stress on farmers. For every acre, at least 20 workers would be required for 10-15 days to harvest the paddy and thrash out the grains. But, it was almost impossible to find so many labourers because youth detest farm jobs, Mr. Kannan said.

They were not inclined to work in fields from morning to evening for meagre wages and opting for jobs in the better-paid construction industry. The average age of farm worker was now 50 years and above and, therefore, productivity expected could not be high. Harvesting machinery too was in short supply, Mr. Kannan said. Even if available, the rent or hire charges were high. A farmer would have to shell out Rs. 1,050 to Rs. 1,900 an hour for hiring a tyre harvester and Rs. 1,400 to Rs. 1,900 an hour for chain harvester.

For lack of alternative solution, even small farmers having less than four acres would have to engage the machinery. Mr. Kannan opined that such a situation would force the farmers to quit farming.

The situation has to be reversed or it would affect food availability and market prices of essential commodities.



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