Wednesday, June 19, 2013

S O S from the Tea Planters/Farmers [Courtesy Ms.Harsha /Planter]

Some of the problems faced by the growers
--- lack of consistent labour 
Not because there is no workforce but because there is no desire for the majority to work for more than 3-4 days in the week. (This could be because the Govt provides rations/freebies  and the only other fuel they need to pay for is liquor. Which enriches the Govt again)

--- difficulty in getting labour from around the plantation. Many prefer to travel to work! Which increases expenses and decreases productive time drastically.

--- The trend of using chemical fertilizer has to change along with the habit of importing the same ,god knows why? This actually has only depleted the land of its nutrients. And out of habit and ignorance farmers want to continue using it. Its cost is crippling both the farmer and his land.

---small growers with a medium sized holding are the most affected. As they cannot work their field on their own, nor can they afford to give work all year round. This way they are at the mercy of the workers demands, whims and fancies too. Some time just for an extra buck they go to another field and then return to yours, knowing that you have no option but to wait for them. Your leaf gets coarse and the factory sometimes rejects it or pays you less. But can you pay the worker less?  This is one problem while plucking coarse leaf also leaves your garden in bad shape. More top shearing required and less leaf for the following rounds depending on the damage done.  Loss and expense for the farmer mounts.

---climate change is another factor. No rain, no manure - no crop, plus an attack of mites.  Too much rain with hail stones and the entire crop is torn away. No marked season either.

--- Shade trees being eaten by cattle. The cowherds have a  habit of letting their cattle graze without supervision. Trees being robbed for wood.

---tea leaf getting robbed.

---Men need to be engaged in the field at higher wages. They demand a lot to carry green leaf bags or even threaten not to carry. 

--- green leaf agents deducting kilograms,  manipulating your labour, paying less at every opportunity once they have got you to put leaf for them.

---No cash advance from factories or agents.

---Demands for high bonus and goodies though there is no permanence in their yearly work attendance. 

---Due to labour irregularities outside labour has to be sought at a higher cost for tea garden weeding and maintenance.

---Realtor's buying up land creating fear and sometimes fencing off pathways.

---Rural banks not readily giving interest free loans which is available( Everything comes with a price) Eventually you spend more to get it and the mental disturbance caused is enough.

--- The fluctuating price of tea and the constant fear that it can slide down and the fear that one will be left to pay the increasing wages and expenses to maintain the garden. 

--- Tea Board subsidies trickle from time to time and one has to get the job done on their own. The formalities involved - the maps to be got from the concerned offices is time consuming and difficult.

--- More over the nationalized bankers who are supposed to save the farmers are asking for PAN nos and Income Tax returns the small tea growers only can look at the sky, having never heard of these terms,the rain gods have long deserted them and now the bankers who are supposed to bail them out of lean periods are demanding too much, leaving the farmers at the mercy of local money lenders ,who ultimately grabs the land and the farmers are left to die. What a pity; sad times for our dear farmers.

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