Labour shortage, high wages hamper Rajshahi, Lalmonirhat Boro harvesting
Acute shortage of farm labourers and high wages are hampering Boro harvesting in Rajshahi and Lalmonirhat districts.
Our Rajshahi Correspondent reports: The Boro paddy harvesting and threshing festival is underway in greater Rajshahi, also known as the Barendra region, which has seen an excellent yield of the food staple this year thanks to favourable weather.
However, the farmers' joy is fading due to a shortage of labourers, despite spending additional money to secure them.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Rajshahi, Boro paddy has been cultivated on 68,600 hectares of land in the district.
Farmers in the Barendra region are now busy bringing home the early variety of Boro paddy, which has resulted in a bumper yield.
Most of the labourers in the Barendra region usually come from small ethnic groups. However, they have been working in the city for the past few years, resulting in a shortage of workers for harvesting rice in villages.
Mikail Hansda and his wife Pulsuri Murmu from Bisrapara village in Godagari upazila explained that they work in the city as they can earn more money there.
For several years, groups of workers from Chapainawabganj came to harvest paddy in Rajshahi. However, they are not coming this time, leaving a scarcity of labourers for cutting and threshing paddy, even with additional remuneration.
Locals are demanding higher wages, asking for four and a half maunds of paddy instead of the previous payment of two and a half maunds for seven workers to cut and thresh paddy spanning one bigha of land.
Farmers are dissatisfied with the current price of the major food grain, as the cost of cultivation has increased due to the rising prices of all types of fertilisers by Tk 250 per sack and the expense of irrigating the land during the scorching heat.
To avoid potential damage from heavy rains in Rajshahi, Umme Salma, a training officer at the Rajshahi Agricultural Extension Directorate, has advised farmers to harvest paddy soon.
Mozdar Hossain, deputy director of the Rajshahi Agriculture Extension Directorate, said that the Boro paddy cultivation target in the Rajshahi district has been surpassed, with a good yield of paddy.
He said Boro paddy harvesting and threshing work have already commenced, with about 30 per cent of paddy harvested so far.
Our Correspondent from Lalmonirhat says: This year, yield of the Boro paddy is very good due to favourable weather in five upazilas of the district. Farmers are now busy cutting their paddy but the high wages of labourers and crisis of labourers have made them frustrated.
Visiting some places of the sadar upazila it is found that the farmers are busy harvesting and thrashing paddy in every village. But they are worried about rain or any other natural calamities.
During the Boro season most farm labourers of the northern region go to the southern part of the country for earning more. In Bogura, Natore and Comilla districts the wages for cutting and thrashing paddy are higher.