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Study: Over 50% farmers struggling with labour shortage, insufficient cash

  • Published at 05:15 pm September 5th, 2020
farmers crops
File photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

90% of the farmers did not manage to receive the government’s stimulus package because they are more interested in taking loans from NGOs, study says

A recent study has found that 56% of the farmers do not have enough cash in their hand for the next crop session and are struggling with labour shortage. Covid-19, cyclone Amphan, and floods have made harvesting extra difficult for the farmers this year.

The findings of the study “Impact of Covid-19 and flood on the farmers and their crop production,” conducted by Disaster Management Watch was revealed in a press conference on Saturday.

According to the study, the marginalized farmers are suffering the most as 67% of them reported that they do not have sufficient funds to harvest and 83% of them reported they need immediate financial support. 

High prices of the farming ingredients has affected the farmers as well. The study revealed that 70% of the farmers claimed that the cost of crop production has increased due to the indirect effects of Covid-19.

The government announced a stimulus package of Tk5,000 crore to be disbursed by the banks amongst the farmers at 4% interest rate to counter the impact of Covid-19. 

However, the study found 90% of farmers did not manage to receive it because they are more interested in taking loans from NGOs. A total of 28% of the farmers said they would take loan from NGOs while only 11% of the farmers reported they would like to manage the finance from the banks.

The respondents also reported that they need immediate assistance, both financial and technical, for preparing seed beds for upcoming Aman season.

Labour shortage is another major issue the farmers are struggling with this year. The study found that 33% of the marginal farmers, 54% of the small farmers, 59% of the medium farmers, and 38% of the large farmers are struggling with labour shortage this year. 

While disseminating the findings, Dr Faisal Kabir, the study lead of the survey, said: “Women could be a good resource to gap the labour shortage. Women usually do a limited type of work during the harvesting season. If they are trained to do technical work like operating machines, the labour shortage issue could be resolved to some extent.”  

Dr Kabir also recommended providing immediate cash incentives, reducing the loan interest, increasing female involvement, creating community farming for getting the maximum benefit, training the farmers with advanced techniques, providing an online help desk to disseminate information, and digitalizing the farming process.

The study was conducted on 120 farmers from May 22 to June 12 to assess how the Covid-19 situation has affected the farmers and again from June 15 to August 20 to see how the flood situation has affected them. 

It was conducted in Patnitala, Joypurhat, Gaibandha, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Godagari, Chapainawabganj, Kushtia, Jessore, Barisal, Patuakhali, and Jhalakathi district.