Intervention of Cotton Picker in Drudgery Reduction of Farm Women
Authors: Vijaya Lakshmi Velivelli
Abstract: Cotton is one of the hugely grown commercial crops in India, mainly in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Provisional data from the Meeting of the COCPC (2021), says that India stands first in the world in acreage with 120.69 Lakh Hectares area under cotton cultivation i.e., around 36% of world area of 333 Lakh Hectares. India is in the top position in the world with an estimated production of 362.18 lakh bales during the cotton season 2021-22 i.e., 23 per cent of the world’s cotton production of 1555 lakh bales. Telangana, the study area produced the highest cotton in South India region i.e., 66.45 lakh cotton bales in 2021-22 season, 14.63 per cent higher than the previous season. This shows the immense potential of the cotton production both in terms of employment and economy. ILO (2019) highlighted that cotton farming is one of the most challenging and labour - intensive activities. Lakhs of migrant and bonded labourers, even children and adolescents are being involved, sometimes as unpaid and invisible labour. Women are majorly involved in cotton picking, which is one of the labour - intensive activity in cotton farming. Despite these problems, mechanization is still lagging in cotton picking activity, which causes lot of drudgery and musculo-skeletal issues among them. This can in turn influence the work efficiency of the labour. Though there are cotton picking machines available in the market, farmers and farm labourers do not purchase and use them as they are unaffordable in price; unaware of the machinery and not sure of its efficiency. With these insights, the current study made an attempt to analyse the drudgery reduction among farm women by using a mechanized cotton picker. The study was conducted on ten farm women involved in cotton picking at Lillipur village of Maheswaram mandal, Telangana. Results showed that most of the sample were having a work experience between 6 - 9 years, worked for 4 - 8 hours per day in the picking season. The perceived exertion of work stress by all the sample was ‘very difficult’ while practicing the traditional method of cotton picking. However, it was ‘neutral’ for almost 70 per cent of the sample during the usage of hand operated cotton picker. There was a reduction in drudgery index in improved method (275.7+0.7) when compared to traditional method (276.2+0.5). The parameters related to physiological workload like resting, working and recovery heart rate, CCW, CCR etc., also showed positive changes by using improved cotton picking method. This study, through its results proved that increase in efficiency, drudgery reduction, saving time and effort of the labour can be done by adapting mechanization in farming activities. The results give an indication that taking up such small mechanization measures can surely help the farming community in a long run.
Keywords: ergonomics, cotton picker, drudgery
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