Agricultural labor is that person who works on another land, does not participate in farm management and its maintenance, and receives money or a portion of the harvest in consideration for his service. He neither has any rights regarding the land, nor does he have to bear any risk regarding the farm. Briefly by agricultural labor we mean’ such laborers who “earn their livelihood by working on agricultural farms.”
According to Second Agricultural Labor Investigation society
Agricultural labor refers to that person who receives more than half of the income from agriculture. The agricultural labor family refers to that family, whose more than half of the income from agriculture.
Problems of Agricultural Labor in India
Describing the conditions of Indian agricultural labor P.T.Mayya writes,
The Indian laborer spends his days in dirt and mud. He produces food grains for us but remains hungry himself. He feeds our cows but never gets anything but water. He fills our stores with food grains, but begs his own ration for the whole year. He continuously chops woods and fills water for those who have become rich on behalf of his labor. His condition is heart wrenching and Piteous.
Excess Working Hours
The working hours of these laborer are not only irregular but also excessive. They have to work since morning to late night. His working hours change with harvest, season and work.
The agricultural labor does not get work for the whole year. According to the Second Agricultural Labor Investigation Society, a Seasonal labor gets an average of 197 days of work in a year. Similarly, child labor gets 204 days and women get 141 days of employment. Thus, their average annual income is very lower.
The wage level of agricultural labors very low as compared to that of industrial labor. It has two reasons
- increase in landless laborers
- lack of non-agricultural areas of work in rural areas.
Majority of agricultural laborers are landless and of backward classes. Due to their lower social status they are treated as animals. Big land owners make them work as slaves. They are used as laborers and in return given minimum wages.
Due to lower income, the indebtedness of agricultural farmers is increasing. They hesitate in negotiating their wages with the land owners in the fear that their services would be terminated. The laborers remain indebted even after working with the land owners for their whole life.
Since the agricultural laborers are spread in millions of village all over the country they lack unity. Thus, they are unable to negotiate their wages etc. with the land owners by uniting themselves.
Exploitation of Child and Women Laborers
Due to lower income the children and women of agricultural laborers are also forced to work for their livelihood. The child and women laborers are made to work more for livelihood. Thus, exploitation of child labor and woman labor is a major problem in the field of agriculture.
Lower Social Status
Most of the agricultural laborers are of backward classes who have been exploited since centuries. Due to this reason also their social status is lower.
Shortage of Other Jobs
There is shortage of other jobs in villages. Thus, if the crop is destroyed by floods, famines etc., it becomes difficult for the agricultural labor to survive.
The landless laborers have no private house. They live in cottages, made on the useless land of the landowners with their permission and in its return they have to work without payment, for the landowners. When a number of people live under the same root, the physical, social, moral and religious problem arises.
Unemployment due to mechanization
At the present times, due to increase in the use of machines, unemployment rate among the illiterate agricultural farmers is increasing, which is a serious problem for them.