A real shortage of labour has begun to worry orchard owners in Himachal Pradesh, as it could seriously impact harvest operations in the fruit growing belt of the state.
The apple crop in Himachal Pradesh is a major crop of the state. The authorities are projecting a production of about 583,000 tons this season. Perm Sharma, President Fruit Grower Association Kullu said: “This season, transportation of apple produces to markets would be a challenging task for orchardists in Kullu district in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of labour due to return of migrant labourers to their home hometowns.”
However, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has been assuring orchardist that they would not face any shortage of labour, although the government is still struggling to figure out how to deal with this problem. To bring back the labourers who had left the state, the Chief Minister is asking the Department of Agriculture to hold meetings with contractors and ask them to further contact the laborers in other States. He talked about an adequate arrangement to facilitate them.
“The state government could even consider sending buses to different places to bring Nepali labourers to the State. The matter should also be taken with the District Administration of bordering districts of Nepal to bring labour to the State,” the minister said
Perm Sharma suggested that some mechanism should be worked out to bring labour from different parts of the state to the apple growing areas. This would reduce the over-dependency of growers on Nepali laborers.