India needs farm mechanisation to boost agri output: ICRISAT
Speaking at a conference organised by agri-research organisation ICRISAT, Chancellor of the Central University of Gujarat and Former Union Minister Y K Alagh said, “With significant movement of rural labour from farm to non-farm activities, labour scarcity has emerged as one of the burning constraints to agricultural production in India.”
The event was organised in association with the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Institute for Human Development (IHD).
The issues on labour dynamics acquire greater importance in the national policy arena, with non-farm income emerging as one of the important sources of income for rural workers as a whole, a trend ushered in by the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Alagh added.
“…agricultural labour shortage very closely affects poverty alleviation and basic food security of smallholder farmers in India. They are the most hit by labour scarcity, having no means to afford high wages of farm workers to carry out labour intensive production,” according to William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT.
However, experts at the conference also feel that scarcity in farm labour creates an opportunity in making farming a more profitable business and encouraging the youth and women back to farming.
This could be done by empowering them with new technologies and improved practices that are less labour intensive and reduce costs, experts added.
Recommendations were also drawn during the conference for improved productivity in response to labour scarcity.
Development of labour saving technologies and machine harvestable crops, inclusive farm mechanisation programme especially for women and youth, integration of farm and non-farm activities in rural areas, were the suggestions made by the experts at the conference.