Issues  I  Labour

Strengthening the understanding of the links between the environment, labour and poverty is a permanent and crucial challenge and is of central importance to foster real sustainable development in rural areas.

 
Migration

Rural poverty is closely correlated to periods of forced inactivity typical of employment in agriculture, which create a large reserve pool of labourers desperate for any form of work to sustain their families. The lack of opportunities in villages drives women and men to urban areas where life is almost as difficult, but there are more chances to earn a little more money in the informal economy.

 
Farmers and workers

Wage workers in agriculture are particularly vulnerable to poverty, as are many of the smallholder farmers. Indeed, since many wage workers farm small plots and many smallholders work away from their own land for considerable parts of the year, the distinction between the poor who are landless and poor smallholder farmers is hard to draw in practice.

 
Labour issues

Agricultural workers and their families, whether on large-scale plantations or smallholdings or within peasant communities, face many disadvantages in terms of access to credit, markets, social services, labour protection and social security. Hours of work in agriculture tend to be extremely long during planting and harvesting, with shorter hours at off-peak times. During rush periods, fieldwork can last from dawn to dusk. In many cases, labour laws are not applied because employers and workers are unfamiliar with the details of the law; application is found to be impractical or enforcement is weak. Typically, casual, temporary or seasonal agricultural workers do not enjoy labour protection equal to that of permanent employees.

 
Minimum wages

In a climate of intense global competition India’s coffee, sugarcane and tea industries’ competitiveness is impaired by the cost of labour. Minimum wages tend to be low for agricultural workers in general. Many casual, temporary or seasonal workers are paid at least in part on a piecework basis, for instance per kilo of crop picked, row weeded, or hectare sprayed. If rates are low, this can lead to people working very long hours to earn a subsistence income.

 
Farmer organisations
Prakruthi encourages rural workers – both wage labourers and smallholder farmers – to organize themselves to improve their living and working conditions. Rural cooperatives and other collective self-help organizations of various kinds are important features of rural life and an essential mechanism for building some degree of social and economic security and overcome rural poverty.


 
 
 
 
Bhagawanth Rao, 14, whose parents Soyam
Lachu and Lachu Bai cultivate about 20 acres of
dry land in Adilabad District,
 
   
 
 
 
 
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