A farm labourer earns Rs 10 per day in Punjab

Written by Swarleen Kaur | Chandigarh, May 13 | Updated: May 15 2008, 04:04am hrs
Per capita daily income of 68% labourers in Punjab is up to Rs 10 only and 70% labourers are reeling under the pressure of loan. These startling findings have been disclosed in a recent study--status of local agricultural labour in Punjab--conducted by the department of economics, Punjabi University, Patiala.

The study has been sponsored by Punjab state farmers commission. Survey has revealed that the incidences of taking loan are much higher in agriculture than the non-agriculture sector. Besides, the main source of loan are landlords and retail merchants. As the earnings are very low, labourers use the major part of their loan in meeting the obligations of their families, which has pushed them into a virtual debt-trap.

The study which has covered around 36 villages of the state, has shown that demand for attached labour in agriculture has increased. Moreover, the maximum demand for casual labour comes from semi-medium, medium and large farmers.

"Inflow of migrant labourers, especially from Bihar has risen manifold over the years. The state receives migrant labourers from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir. The total migrant labourers working in the agriculture sectors comes out to be 8,19,254 persons, constituting 23.04% of the agricultural workforce in the state. The large chunk of migrant workforce comes as casual labourers in the state and more than 90% of them get work only for 50 days in a year. The estimated casual migrant labourers are 6,95,615 persons, according to the survey.

The study found that the low wages in agriculture and in rural areas along with non availability of work is pushing the local rural labour out of agriculture and rural areas in Punjab. About 77% of labourers in agriculture get work for 10-20 days in a month.