Sanjeev Kumar Goyal, 44, Wholesale procurement agent/ rice mill owner, Ludhiana, Punjab
Sanjeev Kumar Goyal
For the past 10 days, ever since the lockdown was announced, Sanjeev Goyal has been busy distributing food, medicines and other essentials to the Bihari labourers he oversees.
Goyal lives near Ahmedgarh mandi, 20 kms from Ludhiana. Although harvesting activities in Punjab are totally mechanised now, the procurement process is still dependent on farm labour. If the labourers from Bihar do not arriveand latest by mid-Aprilthe entire rabi crop will be destroyed, says a worried Goyal.
The harvesting is mainly done by harvesters and threshers but if there is no procurement by the Food Corporation of India and the private players, there is no use. The crop will simply be destroyed on the farm itself, he says.
Punjab produces 13.5 million tonnes of wheat and 18 million tonnes of paddy annually. Some 80 per cent of agricultural labour here comes from Bihar (the other 20 per cent comes from UP, Rajasthan and other states).
Goyal’s main labour contractor is Jai Prasad Sah, from Madhubani district of Bihar. Sah supplies 500-600 migrant workers each year, for procurement activities during the rabi crop and to Goyal’s rice mills in the kharif season. Sahji is like my brother. I have worked with him since I was 13 years old, says Goyal.