Labor Scarcity and Farm Mechanisation: A Cross State Comparison

The paper has analysed the trends in labour use (casual labour and family labour), machine use and labour productivity for five major crops namely, paddy, wheat, cotton, sugarcane and chickpea in the major states. The paper test the hypothesis that there are significant changes in the labour use, farm mechanisation and labour productivity across the states and crops by using the data collected from comprehensive cost of cultivation scheme for the period 1997 to 2010. The labour use per hectare decreased mainly in wheat, chickpea and paddy. The farm mechanisation is speeded up replacing both human and bullock capital. This transformation started in Punjab and Haryana and spread to other states. It increased labour productivity significantly when compared to land productivity. There is also a process of casualisation of agricultural labour as reflected in the increased share of casual labour in states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana. However, in most of the crops in Orissa, West Bengal and in some crops in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan still the share of family labour is high with low level of farm mechanisation and less labour productivity which reflects the prevalence of subsistence agriculture. The positive association among farm mechanisation, displacement of family labour and increased casualisation of labour is observed across many states and crops. Some less developed states are catching up in the process. In this process, there is a steep increase in the labour productivity in agriculture, but the growth rates in wage rates are not commensurate with labour productivity growth. There is huge labour productivity gap that exists across the states with Punjab and Haryana leading with Madhya Pradesh and Orissa at the lower level

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Journal Article
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Published in:
Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Volume 69, Number 3
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JEL Codes:
J21; Q15; Q16

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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