A fruitful time for migrant labourers -Sarita Brara
-The Hindu Business Line
The apple season in Himachal Pradesh spells good earnings for workers from India and Nepal
It is apple season in Himachal Pradesh — the time of the year when thousands of migrant labourers from Nepal, Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and Uttarakhand travel long distances to reach the apple belt of the State, hoping to earn hefty wages.
From plucking, loading, grading, labelling and packaging apples, these workers fan out, from roadhead villages to the remotest ones in the interior parts of the hill State. They are seasonal migrant labourers who come at the end of June or beginning of July and go back in October.
However, there are also migrant workers who work round the year, maintaining apple orchards for their owners who may be employed in places that are distant from their villages.
Ram Bahadur, who hails from Rukum Rangsi village in Nepal, first came to Kotkhai district as a young man, in 2001. He married a Nepali girl here and now has three children, two daughters and a son. They have agriculture land back home in Nepal where they grew paddy that was just enough for the family’s use. Ram Bahadur now works in Chaknol village.
A man of many talents, Ram Bahadur is not only competent in all the activities related to apple growing, from pruning to harvesting, but can also double up as a mason when required. His family has been given a place to stay and a kitchen garden to grow vegetables. He gets daily wages ranging from Rs.600 to Rs.700 during the apple season and around Rs.400 for cutting grass, and similar odd jobs around the year.
As mason, he earns Rs.500 a day. Besides he can grow cash crops like peas and sell them to earn some extra money.
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