Mahfuja Mukul: The weather has been bad for days. Boro paddy ripe in the field. But the workers of rice harvesting are not getting the wage of Tk 1100. Harvester machines are also inconsistent due to high demand. The farmers of the northern region are spending their days in fear of harvesting paddy as the storm and rain are making their eyes water every day in Boishakh.
It is known that not only in the northern region, but also in the country, the labor crisis of Boro season paddy harvesting is intensifying every year. And wages are rising because of the crisis. The wages of rice harvesters have almost doubled in the last five years. According to the information of the farmers of different areas, the workers are not getting less than Tk 1100 to Tk 1000 in one day. Farmers are losing money with these workers at higher wages.
Talking to farmers in several northern districts, it is learned that the field is suitable for harvesting paddy. Boro planting has also been good this season. But rice harvesters are not available. The rain has also started from Wednesday. So, they are spending their days in fear of spoiling the ripe paddy land. Farid Mia, a farmer from Akkelpur Sadar in Joypurhat told that he goes out every day to look for camels. I don’t get it. Bigha up to four thousand rupees. No one came. Now the view (field) of paddy is drowning.
Enamul of Kola village in Badalgachhi told that every worker wants a daily wage of Tk 1,100. It will cost seven to eight thousand rupees to harvest and thresh one bigha of paddy with them.
He said that the cost would be halved if he got the benefit of the machine. The cost of cutting and threshing rice in the machine is less.
Shamsul Haque, a farmer from Paricha village in Badalgachhi said, “I have planted boro on four bighas of land. My ripe paddy is falling. There is no one to cut. Got a bunch. Bigha wants five thousand rupees. Stay and eat again. Then there will be a loss by selling paddy.
Another farmer, Salam, said he had talked to the owner about harvesting rice with a machine (harvester). Now he can’t give time. Despite repeated requests, he did not come to cut the paddy. I am cutting myself with three members of the family. But it is not possible to cut so much paddy by yourself.
Agriculture officials say that in the Boro season, about 12 million acres of land in the country has to be harvested. There is a shortage of 40 per cent agricultural labor in proportion to the number of workers required to harvest paddy from this huge amount of land. Agriculture needs to be mechanized to meet that demand. But so far, the country’s farmers have only five per cent of the amount of rice harvesters needed.
Additional Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension. Syed Md. Rafiqul Amin told that in some areas, everyone is cutting paddy together for fear of natural calamities. There is a labor crisis in these areas.
He said the government has taken up the project of agricultural mechanization to solve this crisis in the long run. Farmers are being given harvesters at half price. Thus, at some point most of the land will come under Yantra.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak has also been expressing concern over paddy harvesting for the last few years. He is interested in farming in the future in Samalayan method. Because different varieties of paddy are being cultivated in small lands in different fields of the country. As a result, it is not possible to harvest paddy in large harvesters at the same time. From simultaneous sowing of seeds in the whole field, from planting of seedlings to cutting of paddy into rounds – everything will be done with the help of modern technology. This will reduce labor costs as well as labor costs.
This year, rice seedlings are being planted in 150 acres of land in Muradnagar, Daudkandi and Chauddagram upazilas of Comilla. Seedlings have been sown in trays and seedlings have been planted with the help of transplanters. When the paddy is ripe, it will be cut with the help of machine and taken to the farmer’s field. This is expected to reduce costs.
Meanwhile, according to a study, the country needs at least 20,000 harvesters to harvest all the boro season rice. But at present there are about four thousand harvesting and ripping machines in operation in Bangladesh.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, the most modern equipment is being used in paddy cultivation. However, despite the use of 95 percent machinery in land cultivation and irrigation, the use of modern machinery in planting, cutting, threshing and threshing of paddy is still very low. The use of combine harvesters in these works is only 10 percent.
The machine can cut one acre of paddy in one hour. In this way it is possible to harvest 50 bighas of paddy in 16 hours in two shifts a day. So that an operator can employ at least 150 workers. The cost of renting these machines or the cost of oil is also much less than the wages of agricultural workers. Currently, this is the best way to deal with the agricultural labor crisis.
Meanwhile, according to the information received from the Department of Agricultural Extension, in the current (2021-22) fiscal year, the target has been set to produce 29.51 million tons of paddy in 48.62 million hectares of land. This year Boro has been planted in 49 lakh 63 thousand hectares of land.
According to the latest data, more than 90 percent of the paddy has been harvested in the haor area. All over the country, half of the paddy has been cut. Most of the remaining paddy is in mature stage.
In such a situation, the agricultural economist Jahangir Alam Khansays that the solution is to mechanize agriculture successfully. He told that due to the economic development of the people, the number of workers is decreasing and therefore the wages are increasing. In developed countries, wages are much higher, but they are almost entirely dependent on machinery in agriculture. That is reducing their cost. That is our best option.
He added that the government has also kept that in mind. The government is subsidizing the purchase of rice harvesters. It needs to be made easier. As if marginal farmers also get that benefit.
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