With non-local labourers nowhere around due to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, local labour is in large demand in the current harvest season in this central Kashmir's district.
The harvesting season in the Valley is presently on its peak. The shortage of non-local labour in the market has increased the demand for the local manual workers, the farmers here said.
The ongoing unrest in the Valley marked by continued shutdowns, government-imposed restrictions and curfews has shooed away from the Valley the outside labourers constituting a significant portion of the labour market.
"There is no hope that the outside labour force, mostly coming from Bihar, Punjab and Bengal, would return this season or this year to Kashmir in view of the ongoing unrest," the farmers said.
According to the farmers, during the harvesting season there remains a huge demand for the labour. "Every year we hired 20 to 30 non-local labourers during the harvesting season for our fields. However, in absence of these non-local labourers we had to get the local labourers mostly from rural areas," Javeed Usman of Ganderbal said.
He said that the farming and agricultural activities "that Kashmiri people know better, were taken over by the non-local labourers over the years and in this way we have lost a promising sector to them.
Pertinently, the farmers are presently harvesting maize and paddy crops here.
According to Chief Agriculture Officer Ganderbal, Nissar Ahmed, some 8600 hectares of land in the district are paddy cultivation.
"A labourer charges Rs 500-600 per day during the current harvesting season," a farmer said.
Notably, the outside labourers have over the years increased their present across the sectors in Kashmir be it the construction activities including masonry, carpentry, or plumber work, or the occupations like tailoring, hair dressing, etc.