ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Punjab’s Agricultural Labourers in Transition

Agricultural labourers are undergoing a socio-economic transition due to the intensified capitalisation of agriculture. The change in structure of rural employment in Punjab, over a period, has two prominent facets: shift of agricultural labour to non-farm sector, and conversion of permanent/attached labour in agriculture to casual labour. This longitudinal study, in 1987–88 and 2018–19, presents the transition in agricultural labour households in the state. While the agricultural labour households, solely depending on meagre income from the agricultural sector are struggling, the ones shifting to the non-farm sector are switching over to menial jobs. Rural agro-industrialisation for overall improvement in the employment situation along with enhanced wages, liberal institutional credit and debt waiver specific to workers are vital aspects that need attention.

Commission Agent System

Responding to the critique of their article on the commission agent system in Punjab, the authors highlight the perils of private solutions to agrarian problems. They propose an enhanced role of the public sector in obliterating the exploitative stronghold of arthiya system in order to protect the interests of farmers and address the problems of Punjab's agrarian economy.

Commission Agent System

Despite favourable policy measures, growth of financial institutions and public interventions in the marketing of agricultural produce, the structure of Punjab's agricultural economy makes farmers dependent on commission agents. These agents trap the farmers in a vicious circle of indebtedness. Based on a field survey, this study locates the commission agent system in Punjab's agriculture set-up and recommends reframing it in order to extricate farmers from the clutches of these agents.

Punjab's Small Peasantry

The small peasantry in agriculturally advanced Punjab faces a severe economic crisis. Though the total workforce has increased over time, the proportion engaged in agriculture has been falling and the number of marginal and small holdings has been declining. The farm surpluses of indebted farmers are very low, and 14% of marginal and 9% of small farmers are effectively bankrupt. Low profitability has prompted many small farmers to leave agriculture and 28% of them have entered the labour market. More pressingly, a significant number have preferred to take their own lives.
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