Maharashtra: Low crop production impacts livelihoods of sugarcane workers

Nashik: Unpredictable and meagre rainfall during the recent months has adversely impacted not only the sugarcane crops and farmers but has also inflicted hardships on the daily wage earners labouring in the sugarcane fields, reported The Times of India.

Commencing in November, the crushing season typically witnesses farm workers from Nashik venturing to Ahmednagar and even Kolhapur in pursuit of employment opportunities, guided by the prevailing remuneration rates. However, this year, the demand for labour has substantially diminished.

With crops battered by both insufficient and unseasonal downpours, the demand for labour has plummeted. A contractor from the region reported turning away over 20% of workers, blaming the “damaged crops and hampered yield.”

He attributed this situation to the erratic and insufficient monsoon rains, which adversely affected the crops. Furthermore, the unseasonal rainfall in November also hampered the crop yield, prompting some farmers to either uproot the plantation or resort to setting the crops ablaze.

One of the workers from Nandgaon taluka employed under the same contractor, lamented the decline in the workforce this season. He saw his family’s seasonal employment at contractors shrink from four members last year to just two this time. Many like him have been forced to scramble for odd jobs and construction work.

One more worker with three daughters expressed the challenges faced by unskilled labourers:

Despite securing alternative employment, many workers remain discontented, citing the government’s preferential treatment towards financially aiding farmers who incurred losses, while neglecting the plight of workers who lost their livelihoods. Another worker from Nandgaon taluka underscored the vulnerability of farm workers, stating that the farm workers are neglected in the agriculture sector. Farmers have their agricultural land but workers have nothing to survive on, he said.


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