Kerala- the land of coconuts is witnessing acute shortage of tree climbers and farmhands threatening state's traditional farm base and paddy cultivation, forcing the government's attention to it.
There is largescale influx of migrant workers from far-flung states like Bihar and West Bengal, causing much concern for the government. Agriculture department is contemplating the idea of a training school to create a pool of workers.
"Creation of a pool of labourers is crucial to sustain farming in Kerala. This could be achieved by giving them structured training in farm work and allied activities", Director of Agriculture, K K Gangadharan, told PTI.
However, concept of setting up of training schools is in its preliminary stage and final decision on the form, content and structure of the course would be decided only after thorough discussions, Gangadharan said.
As per the official statistics, the state has about 16 crore coconut trees, mostly spread over housing plots, many of them marginal-holdings. Most villages have one or two coconut palm climbers, making it difficult for farmers to harvest the trees at right time.
Though some steps to introduce mechanisation were made in the past, they did not yield desired results.
"Mechanisation is essential in both coconut farming and paddy cultivation. Imparting skills in using machines in farming could be part of the course," Gangadharan said.
The shortage of workers in Kerala is due to radical changes socio-economic profile over the decades. Factors like land reforms, universal education and migration to Gulf countries have forced the social groups that traditionally supplied workers to distance from agriculture.