Developing a farm labor management plan is an essential decision making tool for a farm manager in planning to hire farm labor. This type of plan helps the labor may be required and what duties the employee will be required to perform. If you’ve decided to hire farm labor, this factsheet will help you hire the best person for the job.
Step One: Preparing the Job Description
You can make your recruiting and hiring process trouble
free if you spend the time initially to develop a job
description for the Labour you will be hiring. A written
job description is a personnel management tool
used to aid in management organization, recruitment,
selection and performance appraisal. You need to
establish a clear idea of the duties the person is
required to do. What qualifications are essential? Are
you willing to train the potential Labour in speciaiized
areas? How much are you willing to pay the
Labour ? The job description is primarily used by
managers to help communicate to their Labours
what their job entails.
The job description is designed to get down to specifics.
What are the duties to be performed, the working
conditions, the management expectations, and the
wages and benefits? What are the job requirements in
terms of education, experience,social skills and
during peak periods of planting and harvesting.
The job description wanted advertisement, as well as a word-of-mouth
Agriculture is a labor intensive production process, it depends on huge manpower and draft animal power. Nearly 55% of Indian labor force is engaged in agriculture who are contributing to the development of rural economy. Over the past couple of decades the farm labor has been decreasing in agriculture which was caused by occupational change, people mindset, government policies and reforms. As the share of agriculture to GDP has been declining the agriculture work force is also moving to non agriculture sectors.
The Labor scarcity is the biggest threat to Indian agriculture due to urbanized life style, low farm wages, irregular employment in villages and laborious nature of work. Lot of unemployed rural youth moving to other well-paid occupations since farming is a physical drudgery, also the farm work has prejudiced as low profile profession. So the traditional farmers are forced to discard the food crops due to non availability and high wages of farm workers, farmers are switching to less labor intensive farming like short term commercial crops and social forestry plantations.
The intention of rural employment schemes are good, they have been creating employment to rural work force with prevailing wages. But the small and marginal farmers are incapable to pay such a bargain wages which are equal to government schemes, sometimes the availability of the farm labor is less in the crop season since all of the rural work force have engaged in the scheme works.
I am not going to blame the NREG and Food for work programs for diverting the rural labor to public works or non farm work, but the works schedules should be planned according to village priorities. The rural employment schemes should be halted whenever the work force is required for agriculture needs, especially in Kharif and Rabi seasons, Grama panchayath intervention must be required to synchronize the rural labor force.
Farm equipment is also necessary to overcome the labor shortage problem. Large scale farmers are able to adopt the new technologies and equipments since they have large crop area and strong financial power, but the small and marginal farmers are still depend on manpower. The farm equipment manufacturers should produce small scale farm machines, technology awareness has to be created among the farmers. The banks have to give the long term loans to farmers to buy farm equipment and the government should promote the innovative farm equipment, subsidies should be granted to the farmers on such equipments.
Some people often think that the farm labor is dirt cheap, now it’s very expensive. May be in near future the Indian farm labor is also going to be organized by companies like how the security professionals or industrial labor supplied on contract basis in cities. In Americas and Europe, lot of agencies are offering farm services like planting, chemical spraying, harvesting and haying with modern equipment. We never know... it could happen in India also.
What are the steps to consider when seeking a new Labours?
• Develop a position description – what will be the roles and responsibilities of the new Labour.
• Decide on your recruitment strategy – word of mouth, newspaper advertisement, using an GWT service.
• Before interviewing potential Labours,developing a checklist of questions will assist you to make the right decision. Try to avoid questions that require a yes-no answer, e.g. do not ask do you know how to treat a cow for mastitis or to manage ryegrass, ask the person to describe the steps in treating a cow for mastitis. Ask in-depth questions covering all aspects of management that the potential Labour may encounter on your farm.
• Interview the applicants and select the candidate who best fits the position description, do not make a hasty decision –reflect on the interview and be sure to check references.
• Put the new Labour on for a 12-week probationary period.
• Use the probationary period to induct and train
new Labour – especially in farm safety.
• Be patient – there is a lot for the new Labour to learn.
How do you as an employer maximize work performance?
• Be approachable and understanding.
• Be firm when necessary.
• Be committed to training and learning.
• Be able to provide opportunities for the future.
• Be a good listener.
• Ensure that personal discussions are kept confidential.
• Be clear about what is required by the Labour.
What should you put time and effort into to retain Labour?
• Ensuring basic workplace practices are understood, the workplace is as clean and safe as possible with amenities of a reasonable standard.
• By providing opportunities for learning.
• Giving performance appraisal and feedback.
• Building in incentives and recognition.
• Developing Labour’s career opportunities.
• Celebrating achievements.
How do farmers source and manage Labour?
• Try to employ people you know something about.
• Treat Labours like family or friends;however, they still need to know you are the boss.
• Pay them fairly.
• Provide permanent Labour’s bonuses or incentives for good work.
• Always employ someone local who has a mortgage.
• Remember that everyone does things differently. A farmer may recommend a way to undertake a task to labours; however,that Labour will probably do things a little differently depending on his former training and experience. You may need to be sympathetic to accepting changed work practices when required.
• Do not give all the bad jobs to Labours, do these jobs in pairs or share the task.
• Ask for employees opinion and input, get their involvement and ownership. This is also relevant for family members working on farm.
• Treat family members as employees and develop formal arrangements.
Should you use position descriptions?
• Farmers have found that position descriptions can be beneficial as it allows labour to know what their roles are, and they help the employer think about what the role is. This can be a good starting point.
• The position descriptions should also detail the wages and the increases to wages over time.
GWT- for Labour Scarcity-Analytical strategies
The labour scarcity being felt as a major impediment in agriculture, this study has probed into its magnitude,impacts, causes and possible solutions in Tamil Nadu. The study will reveal
that prevalence of acute labour scarcity in Tamilnadu has affected the productivity levels of almost all crops and is even leading towards the permanent changes in the cropping pattern. The important reasons identified for the labour scarcity include higher wages in other locally-available jobs, seasonal nature of agricultural jobs and presumption of an agricultural job to be of low esteem. The level of adoption of labour-saving implements and technologies by the farmers is very low for the reasons of higher cost, lack of skill and smaller size of holdings.
The study has suggested that agricultural extension system of the district / state / country should be geared-up, to bring out farmers from the conventional methods of cultivation and to educate them on adoption of labour-saving implements and technologies. Also, a
community level approach should be encouraged among farmers for adopting / availing highly expensive labour-saving technologies and implements cooperatively. In addition, agricultural jobs should be made more remunerative by increasing the wages at least at par with other jobs available in local.
Analytical Strategies / Tools
The analytical strategies / tools are used in the study
- Supply-demand gap analysis,
- Markov chain analysis,
- Productivity gap analysis, and
- Garrett ranking technique.
Supply – Demand Gap Analysis
The month-wise supply of labour is assessed by
considering the available agricultural labour force in
the district (secondary data) and average mandays of
work delivered in a month by each labour (primary
The month-wise demand for labour is assessed
by considering the area under each crop and labour
requirement for various cultural operations to be carried
out in each month . Estimates are
obtained by availing both primary and secondary data.
Markov Chain Analysis
The structural changes in the cropping pattern due
to labour scarcity is examined by using the Markov
Productivity Gap Analysis
The unpaired t-test is employed to assess the
statistical significance of the difference in the mean
productivity levels of labour-scarcity-affected and
unaffected farms and labour-saving technology-adopted
and non-adopted farms, respectively.
Assumptions made for classifying labour-scarcityaffected
and unaffected farms and labour-saving
technology-adopted and non-adopted farms are given
• The farms wherein there was a cumulative delay
of 10 days or more in carrying out any one or
more of the agricultural operations in the previous
season is categorized as labour-scarcity
• The farms wherein at least one of the laboursaving-
technologies if adopted, is categorized as laboursaving
Garrett Ranking Technique
Garrett ranking technique (Garrett and Woodworth,
1971) was used to rank the reasons for labour scarcity
and reasons for non-adoption of labour-saving
GWT would help for Policy Implications
The study will reveal an acute labour-scarcity in Tamilnadu for the agricultural works,affecting consequently the productivity levels of almost all the crops grown in the each district. If this trend continues,the cropping pattern of the district may even get a shift towards tree crops like cashew and coconut, which are comparatively less labour-intensive. The reasons
will be identified for the labour scarcity include higher wages
in other locally available jobs, seasonal nature of
agricultural job and presumption of an agricultural job
as a low-esteem one.
The analyses will be further revealed that the available labour-saving implements and technologies could have a positive impact on the productivity levels
of crops, if adopted. The reasons identified for their non-adoption include higher cost, lack of skill and small size of holdings. The study has made following suggestions for improving the labour supply to the agricultural sector:
• The labour scarcity being inevitable in a fast
developing economy, agricultural extension system
of the district / state / country has to be geared up,
to bring farmers out from the conventional methods
of cultivation and educate them on adoption of
available labour-saving implements / technologies.
• A community level approach is to be encouraged
among farmers for adoption / availing of the highly
expensive labour-saving technologies /
• The agricultural job has to be made more
remunerative by increasing the wages at par with
other jobs available locally.