New Delhi, Sep 15 :
Agricultural labour shortage is affecting poverty alleviation and basic food security of 600 million small farmers in India, experts said Monday.
“Labour scarcity has hit 600 million small farmers who cannot afford high wages of farm workers for doing labour intensive production,” said William Dar, director general, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
He was speaking at a symposium on “Dynamics of Rural Labour Markets: Implications for Agricultural Growth and Rural Transformation” at the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences here.
Cynthia Bantilan, research programme director, markets, institutions and policies, ICRISAT, said: “Tightening of agricultural labour supply; attracting and retaining talented youth in agriculture; sustainable employment for rural labour force; and increasing labour productivity are challenges to India’s labour market.”
Dar said that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, a source of income for rural workers, is affecting India’s food security due to labour shortage.
Bantilan said men and women can be drawn back to farming with new technology and improved practices that are less labour intensive.
Dar said ICRISAT has identified machine harvestable and herbicide tolerant chickpea breeding lines, being tested by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Upon adoption, farmers will have increased productivity and profitability.