Economy

A new job market for farmers is taking root

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on May 22, 2019

Rice and sugarcane crops together consume more than 60% of water available for irrigation.

HNIs with huge land parcels wooing ‘practising farmers’ with attractive pay

‘Wanted farmers’, says a Facebook advertisement.

“Dear farmer, need your support to produce healthy food for our society. Join hands with us to give healthy and better life,” it says.

And the pay package is ‘attractive’, considering the financial crisis that small and marginal farmers are facing in the country.

The interested farmers are offered an annual package of ₹1.80-2.40 lakh. Besides, they will get free food and accommodation, says the ad released on behalf of the Tamil Nadu-based Keeraikadai.

But this is not an isolated example and the ‘offer’ varies from one recruiter to another. What explains the spurt in demand for ‘practising farmers’ is the new-found obsession with farming among some high net-worth individuals (HNIs), including IT professionals and doctors.

“We see consolidation happening in land holdings. HNIs are buying huge chunks of lands. Some of them may be buying it for investment purpose, while others are interested in growing crops,” GV Ramanjaneyulu, Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, told BusinessLine.

“They are buying land because they have money. But they would require people who know farming if they want to grow something. Hence, the demand for the farmers,” he said.

Telangana Rythu Sangham Secretary Sagar said he too had received enquiries, asking for ‘hands’ that can take care of the farming needs of share-croppers.

Demand for organic food

“The concept of Farmers’ Producer Organisations (FPO) is gaining currency. These FPOs are primarily targeting the growing demand for organic food in the urban areas. Their focussed farming too would require professional farmers,” Sagar said.

Those with experience in growing specialised crops and niche farming methods such as natural farming are in good demand.

Several people holding large chunks of land are scouting for farmers in bulk to take care of their farms. “They approached me a few months ago. As we are working with the kin of the farmers who committed suicides, one entity was wondering whether it could employ the widows on the farms,” Kanneganti Ravi, Convener of Rythu Swarjya Vedika, said.

Aparna, who is part of Beyond Organic (which works with millet farmers for market linkages), says she doesn’t pay any salary.

With about 35-40 acres of arable land, she ropes in farmers to do organic farming on her plot. “I follow two methods. In the first model, I provide them with inputs and I take 25 per cent of the produce. In the second model, I take ₹1,000 per acre upfront and allow them to grow pulses or millets,” she says.

Published on May 22, 2019

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