press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
The preparation of the Chithira kayal fields for paddy cultivation is on in full swing. At work are nearly 10 labourers, hailing from Assam. They were engaged for the work two weeks ago, and have been put up in a makeshift facility near the field.
The Chithira kayal fields will witness paddy farming yet again, since 1996. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will formally launch the cultivation of paddy in the fields on Sunday.
As is the case with other sectors in Kerala, the farm sector too has seen workers from other States finding jobs here. Significantly, the migrant labourers have begun to find employment in Kuttanad, a region known for the active participation of the local community in agriculture.
Chithira paddy cluster secretary Jose John Vengathara said the labourers were engaged for daily wages as they were found to be immensely productive. The work was devoid of any hurdles, including labour disputes. He said they were being provided the hike in wages that was recently fixed by the district administration for agricultural workers in the region.
However, the move to engage migrant labourers for working on farms has not gone down well with trade unions. D. Lakshmanan, district secretary of the Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union, the farm labour wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said it was a contentious issue. “There is no shortage of labour in the Kuttanad region at present. We have raised a complaint against engaging migrant labourers, as there are several workers in the region who remain unemployed,” he said.
Kuttanad Vikasana Samithy executive director Thomas Peelianickal said the local community must be roped in for undertaking farming in Kuttanad. “There are several unique features in the agricultural practices of the region, mainly owing to the fact that paddy is cultivated below sea level. The transfer of indigenous knowledge regarding agricultural techniques is vital for maintaining the productivity in the fields,” he said.
Fr. Peelianickal said the authorities must encourage the younger generation, particularly those hailing from the farming communities, to take up agriculture by providing them with dignified working conditions. Although mechanisation had considerably brought down the requirement of workforce in the fields, there was scope for greater local participation by ensuring that they were trained in handling machines such as the combine harvester, he said.
From : The Hindu