As labour shortage is affecting paddy sowing in Punjab, growers are willing to pay higher wages to labourers along with food and shelter.
"We are offering much higher wages to labourers for paddy sowing this year as labour shortage has become a perennial problem in the state. So we are left with no choice except giving into their demands," said a paddy grower Avtar Singh of Ballomajra village in Mohali district today.
Farmers said labourers are now demanding wages in the range of Rs. 2,000-2,200 per acre as against wages of Rs. 1,600-1,800 per acre they were getting last year for paddy sowing.
Besides paying wages, growers will also take care of labourers' food and shelter needs until paddy sowing is complete.
"We bear food cost three-time a day and then make arrangement for their shelter, TV for their entertainment as well. Sometimes, we also pay to get their mobile recharged," he said.
Labour shortage has become a permanent crisis in Punjab with migrant labourers preferring to work in their home states including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where they work in infrastructure projects and under MNREGA scheme.
With Punjab laying thrust on crop diversification, the state has proposed to cut down area under water guzzling paddy crop by 2 lakh hectares to 26.50 lakh hectares during current sowing season which starts today.
Punjab, known as food-bowl of country, contributes 25 per cent of rice in central pool.
Punjab government had decided to encourage farmers to go for mechanical way of sowing paddy with paddy planting machines on massive scale several years back.
But over the years, paddy growers have not shown "much response" to switching over to mechanised way of paddy plantation on account of "complicated" process of raising paddy nursery and lack of adequate technical knowledge in running machines.
"Sowing paddy through mechanised way is a very complicated process for a small grower like us who does not understand crop plantation through machines," said a paddy grower.
High cost of paddy sowing despite subsidy available on its purchase has also discouraged especially small and marginal farmers from buying them.