Pune, 3rd December 2022: As a solution to the local labour shortage and increased wages, the viticulturists of Sangli district have brought in labourers from Bihar and trained them to work in the vineyard. Due to the low wages, and the ability to work all day, the grape fields in the eastern part of the district including Tasgaon are flourishing on the strength of Bihari labourers.
Miraj, Palus, Kadegaon, Tasgaon, Kavathe Mahankal, Jat, Khanapur, and Atpadi areas of Sangli district have a large area of vineyards. In this area, the grape season starts around the same time. As a result, there is a major labour shortage during the season. To overcome this labour shortage, for the first time in the 2010-11 season, farmers of Soni (now Miraj) village brought labour from Bihar. After that, Bihari labourers started coming to Manerajuri and other villages. Now the number of Bihari labourers working in grape plantations in the Sangli district has crossed ten thousand. These labourers are trained to work in the vineyard. They work as the viticulturists tell them.
During the grape season, male labourers get Rs 400 for seven hours from 8 am to 3 pm, while women get Rs 300. Bihari labourers work for nine hours from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening. So there is a surplus of work during the season. Some farmers have brought a team of Bihari labourers. Accommodation is provided to the labourers. Farmers pay Bihari labourers around 32 thousand rupees for an acre (40 R) of garden work. If the same work is done by local labourers, it goes up to Rs 50 thousand. Therefore, it is economically beneficial for the farmers to hire Bihari labourers.
A major labour shortage occurs during the off-season. Garden works are not done on time. A breakdown in the environment is likely to cause major damage. Therefore, farmers prefer to hire Bihari labourers. The number of labourers working in the vineyard in the district should be more than eight thousand.
“Hiring Bihari labourers is financially beneficial. Without the support of the labourers, the vineyards would have had to be removed as labour was not available or the labour rates were unaffordable. Our gardens depend on Bihari labourers,” a vineyard owner said.