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Amid labour shortage, Malwa villages reduce land lease rates

Farmers operating on lease say that in addition to the labour scenario, they are also worried about procurement of certain varieties of paddy
Hindustan TImes, Chandigarh | By Mohit Singla, Nabha
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2020 01:04 AM IST

With farmers apprehending shortage of labour for paddy sowing, some villages across Malwa have passed resolutions to reduce the lease rate of land that owners charge from farmers.

The maximum rate at which land can leased out has been fixed, and it is lower than last year. Farmers operating on lease say that in addition to the labour scenario, they are also worried about procurement of certain varieties of paddy. In the recent past, the Centre has advised Punjab to stop varieties like PUSA-44 to check stubble burning.

A farmer claims to have suffered a loss of Rs 30,000 than going ahead with cultivating paddy on leased land. “I had given Rs 30,000 in advance to the land owner in Bimbri village (Sangrur) where I had been farming on 12 acre since 2008. However, when I calculated increased labour rates, I decided not to take the land on lease,” said Gurjant Singh of Nabha’s Dulladdi village.

Sukhwinder Singh, sarpanch, Jhaloor village in Barnala, said, “We have passed a resolution that land lease rate will be a maximum of Rs 10,500 per bigha (52,500 per acre) this year. Farmers were reluctant to come forward at Rs 12,000 per bigha (60,000 per acre) due to the high price of labour and uncertainty around government purchase of paddy.”

Most villages have now fixed the maximum rate of land for farm lease at between Rs 50,000 and Rs 57,000 per acre. Farmers will have to pay penalties for violation of agreement.

In Patiala, Tunga, Kakrala Bhaike, Gaajewas villages, and Gurusar in Bathinda have fixed these rates. In Sangrur, Guara village has fixed the maximum lease at Rs 45,000 per acre for land with lower water accessibility and Rs 50,000 per acre for other pockets.

In Delewal (Sangrur) and Shahpur (Patiala) villages, rates were not reduced, but lenders agreed to give up the rent for the area on which the farmer fails to sow paddy.

“Short-sighted state government and the Centre failed to provide confidence to migrant labourers and farmers by clarifying uncertainty about paddy procurement of PUSA-44, which is the only variety which gives yield between 30 and 35 quintal per acre. Farmers, however, are engaging with the community and reaching such agreements,” said Harmel Singh Tunga, Nabha president of BKU Ugrahan.

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