Expensive labour disheartens Salcete's small-time farmers

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June 24, 2014 at 10:28 am #5494

Farmers in Salcete have a reason to smile and hope for a good paddy crop with the taluka receiving adequate rain so far.

However, farmers cultivating small fields are likely to find it difficult due to the exorbitant wages demanded by the workers involved in farming activity.

According to John Dias, a farmer from Macasana, who cultivates paddy in a small piece of land, so far, there has been adequate rain and one can hope for good paddy crop. 

“But our concern is the non-availability of workers who know the farming activities.” He said that nowadays there is a shortage of skilled workers and added that knowing there is a demand, wages asked for are very high. “How can we pay them Rs 600 a day?” he sought to know further adding that women labourers also charge Rs 350 to Rs 400.

Antao Crasto, a farmer from Sao Jose de Areal said that with the area receiving sufficient rains, farming activities are being carried out and very soon, seeds will be sowed. He said that at present, the conditions are suitable and added that one can expect a bumper crop. He, however, said that companies engaged in laying sewerage and electric cables in various parts of Margao and Fatorda have roped in workers by luring them with better salary, which has, in turn, led to a shortage of labourers for farming activities. He said that women workers are plenty and come from the villages of Quepem, Rivona and Sanguem but work less in the fields as compared to men. 

Wilma Fernandes from Nuvem said that at present the climatic condition to carry on with the farming activities is good and felt that if the present situation persists for another month, the work of sowing of seeds can be completed. She, however, expressed concern stating that there is a shortage of labourers having knowledge of farming and sowing of seeds. 

Salcete zonal agricultural officer Sandeep Faldesai said that proper measures to motivate small and big farmers have been taken and added that incentives to promote agriculture have also been provided to them. He said that subsidies available under various schemes have also been given to the farmers. 

According to Faldesai, farmers in the Salcete and Mormugao talukas are engaged in paddy cultivation in around 6,500 hectares of land. He said that the Salcete farmers have begun cultivating paddy in areas like St Jose de Areal, Nuvem, Macasana, Curtorim, Sirlim and Chandor. “The zonal agricultural office has provided the farmers with several tonnes of paddy seeds, which have been given at subsidised rates,” he said.  

Faldesai said that the farmers have undertaken cultivation under the rice intensification scheme. Under this scheme, for every square metre of land cultivated for paddy, a rupee is given to the farmer as incentive. “Farmers cultivating paddy in an area of 10,000 square metres will get Rs 10,000 as incentive under this scheme,” he said.

The zonal agricultural officer said that the introduction of modern farming equipment along with the benefit of schemes has led to several hectares of barren land being brought under paddy cultivation in Salcete villages.

“The agriculture department provides subsidies to all categories of farmers from the stage of land preparation to the harvesting stage. Tractors are provided at a subsidised hiring rate of Rs 125 per hour while the actual rate is Rs 250. Bigger tractors are provided to farmers by charging Rs 500 per hour and the response is good,” said Faldesai.

Stating that the government has assured Rs 17 on one kg of paddy as a support price to the farmers, who sell their produce to the notified dealers, he said that if a dealer buys one kg of paddy for Rs 8, the government would pay the difference of Rs 9 to the farmer.

Source/Reference: Navhind Times, “Expensive labour disheartens Salcete’s small-time farmers

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