In poll season, labour crunch set to hit wheat harvesting - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Monday, April 8, 2019

In poll season, labour crunch set to hit wheat harvesting

In poll season, labour crunch set to hit wheat harvesting

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 7

With migrant labourers returning to their native places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for the Lok Sabha poll, the farm and industrial sectors in Punjab have started facing labour pangs.

Farmers suspect that labour shortage at this stage will hamper wheat harvest. With fewer hands being available, labour charges are expected to go up. In the last season, labour rates in Punjab varied from Rs 4,000 to 4,500 per acre and these are expected to reach Rs 5,000 or above this season.

Wheat harvesting has already been delayed by around a week due to recent rain spells. In around weeks, grain markets are expected witness bumper wheat arrivals.

There has been a sudden rise in the demand for local labourers, albeit at some extra cost. “I have called some village youths and women labourers to harvest my crop,” said Jagdish Singh, a farmer from Jargarhi village in Khanna.

With seven-phase LS polling scheduled to start from April 11, this happens to be the crucial campaign period for all political parties that hire labourers to show gathering at their rallies and other events in UP and Bihar.

According to landlord Jujhar Singh from Baghriyan (Sangrur), with the wheat harvesting season approaching and paddy season to follow, shortage of migrants from UP is likely to jack up the already high labour costs.

Labour contractor from Bihar Pritipal says, “Politicians in our native states need our support at this time and if we work for them for this one month, they will look after us for five years. Moreover we will stay with our families and there are chances that some of us get government jobs, as is being promised.”

The industrial sector in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar is also facing labour shortage, thus forcing many units to cut down manufacturing.

Grain markets in Punjab are expected to receive over 132 lakh tonne wheat against the last year’s 128 lakh tonne. Shortage of labour in grain markets is likely to hamper lifting. This could spell trouble for the ruling party as in such a situation farmers may raise a banner of revolt against the government.

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