Agustu Kirketta, a school teacher in Manpur village of Sarguja district, called his students at his house on Monday morning before taking them to his paddy field. This was not to teach them how paddy grows, but to push the primary class students for paddy transplantation in the field.
The matter came to the notice of higher authorities and a team was sent to the village to catch the teacher red-handed. “Agustu Kirketta was found guilty of forcing the students to work in his field and the department is taking necessary action against the teacher,” S P Jaiswal, the block education officer, said.
This will not be a bizarre incident that will mark the kharif season in Chhattisgarh this year. The labour crunch and cost has propelled many paddy growers in the state, known as ‘rice bowl of the country’, to adopt such methods. Many farmers are forced to work in the fields, failing to get labourers.
Acreage and crop estimates
|Acreage: (in hectares)
|Production: (in tonnes)
According to the government, the labour rate has increased by about 25 per cent from Rs 102 to Rs 126 a day this year as compared to the kharif season of 2010. “It is government rate and in reality, the increase is by 40 to 50 per cent,” said farmers’ leader Virendra Pandey. This has increased the cost of paddy production by about 30 per cent, forcing the farmers to rethink on paddy crop, he added.
Despite all odds, Chhattisgarh government has set a target of record paddy production this year despite the acreage has been slightly reduced from last year’s 3.57 million hectares to 3.56 million hectares this year. The estimated paddy production had been set at 6.26 million tonnes as against last year’s 6.15 million tonnes.
“With the modern technology, hybrid seeds and best quality fertilizers, paddy production in the state will increase despite decrease in acreage,” said deputy director (agriculture) R K Chandravanshi. While reducing the paddy acreage, the department has prepared a strategy to increase that of oilseeds and pulses.
While the pulses acreage has been increased from 409,000 hectares to 425,000 hectares this year, oilseeds acreage in the state has gone up to 365,000 hectares from previous year’s 355,000 hectares. The production of pulses and oilseeds has been estimated at 214,080 tonnes and 305,580 tonnes respectively for the kharif 2011.
“As of now, the rainfall in the state is normal and crop estimates have not been revised,” Chandravanshi said.