Thursday, March 20, 2008

human resources the greatest challenge in agriculture

There are many schools of thought on how to handle unskilled labor. Strict discipline and a command structure as in the army is the way to go say one lot and others say that people need to be treated better if they are to work for you. The middle ground is probably the way to go. In the earlier scenario one may not be able to retain a workforce which today is generating more vacancies than it can fulfill especially due top the massive recruitment to the forces at very high rates of pay for very low educational skills. The latter scenario being too nice may mean they try to take full advantage of the situation and then take you for a ride.

Due to alternative employment opportunities available, workers are demanding much higher pay scales. Those who employ farm workers to tend vegetable plots, now tell me it is just not profitable to do so and are cutting down on labor intensive practices or vegetable cultivation altogether. There is no price guarantee of produce, so if paid labor is used and certain levels of scales have to be paid many areas of agriculture become unprofitable and have been scrapped. It may result in price increases for those items. This will go on till a balance is reached.

The other area is the work ethic where agricultural labor requires a lot of supervision, which unless it is part of a large farm, is impossible for a smaller farmer. Alcoholism is a major reason for low productivity and also contributes to absenteeism, sickness and theft to fund bad habits. With the price of food rising the latter reason is become more of a problem. The unavailability of labor limits choices with those in work.

The size of our agricultural unit lends itself better to owner cultivator and not to paid labor. In order to get to the next level in productivity we must either have to resort to mechanization in a larger scale and have large-scale farms with supervised labor much like the way the garment factories operate. The plots between 5 and 50 acres will then become uneconomical and a paradigm shift will take place, after huge adjustments unless there is proper planning for the eventualities of no labor and very high cost of food for lack of prior planning and implementation of the future course of food production. Specialized highly paid skilled labor will also be more appropriate under the circumstances.


voipniche said...

Good to see you are back. I will be in Japan soon as I told you. I will be visiting my cousin in law's farm this time. Husband and wife unit manages the rice farm of about 2.3 hectares and smaller farm of fruit trees, oranges and an assorted fruits.Sometimes they have help but most of the work is mechanized. Perhaps SL farmers need to grow up and see beyond money in the pocket twice a year (rice harvest) as you have told before. The cousin still considers rice farming is a part time job and hence he works for th water board that requires him to visit farms near his village, yet keeping him closer to farm. I think SL farmers need the "want" If the rice take 3 months from inception to harvest, where does the other six months go? Can they grow something in between in the fields,

Anonymous said...

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Niro said...

Thats very true, In fact for any industry I guess. Even the industry I'm in the Software Field.. Managing skills of human resources matters so much...

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