Agri Business

‘Farm mechanisation is convenient, cost-effective'

A. J. Vinayak Mangalore | Updated on March 12, 2018

Cheaper and faster: Training being given for mechanised paddy transplantation.   -  Business Line

If you are a trekker and on an expedition, to Gadaikallu hill (also known as Jamalabad) in Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district you need to cross a narrow bridge leading to the base point.

After crossing the bridge, if you take right turn a kilometer-and-half prior to the base point and walk a little distance you would get a picturesque view of the entire Kudremukh range from a vast green paddy field. On the boundary of the paddy field there, you see two houses with Mangalore-tile roof.

Though climbing the difficult stretches of Gadaikallu may be easier for Mr Ajith Kumar Ariga (who lives in one such house), but same thing cannot be said about farming in the above mentioned paddy field.

The main reason for this situation is the shortage of farm labour in the region. The 51-year-old Ariga did not even bother to think about mechanisation in his paddy field and arecanut plantation till a decade ago, as he could get enough people for these activities.

Explaining the problems related to labour shortage to this reporter on a visit organised by the Karnataka Information Department to his field recently, Mr Ariga said that most part of his farming activities, ranging from paddy to arecanut cultivation, are now dependent on mechanisation.

“Since the past 10 years I have been facing difficulties in finding workers for carrying out farming activities,” he said.

Showing ‘Jaya' and ‘Rashi' varieties of paddy planted on his two-acre land, he said this rabi season, he had to bring a paddy transplanter and a mechanised weeder to transplant and to remove weeds in his field. After seeing its performance at the District Agriculture Training Centre at Belthangady town, he thought it fit to give a try at his field also. The centre provided him the transplanter without charging any rent. He had to bear just the transportation cost from the centre to his farm and back.

“I need around 10-15 members a day for four-five days to plant paddy in my field. I have to pay each one of them around Rs 125 a day. Due to the acute shortage of farm workers, I decided to give a try to paddy transplanter and weeder this season,” he said, adding that with mechanisation he could finish the work in six hours using the services of three persons.

Expressing satisfaction over the use of these machineries for farm activities, he said they helped him save money and valuable time. The transplanter saved him around Rs 3,000 this season. Now he is thinking of using machineries for harvesting activity also. Dr G.T. Puthra, who heads the District Agriculture Training Centre of the Karnataka Government at Belthangady, observed that the experiences of people like Mr Ariga have made other farmers, who had abandoned paddy cultivation due to labour shortage, to reconsider their decisions. They are seeing the benefits of using them, he said.

Mr Ariga, who cultivates nearly 2,000 arecanut plants and around 200 coconut trees, now no more dependent on manual labour for his plantation works.

Clutching the local-made tree climber to his legs, he showed how quickly and easily he can spray copper sulphate solution to arecanut trees and harvest arecanut and coconut from the trees. Commenting on current trend of labour shortage, he said: “These days an educated person looks for an office job. The uneducated prefers jobs in the nearby cashew factories or SHG-run (self-help group) home industries units. No one wants to do labour-intensive farm jobs.” On an optimistic note he said these factors did not deter him. In stead, it made him to look at other avenues to tackle the problem.

Published on February 08, 2011

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