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

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Livelihood Crisis and Distress

Seasonal Migration in Beed District of Maharashtra

After sowing the rabi crops, villages in Maharashtra are faced with severe seasonal unemployment. To tide over the lean season, thousands of small and marginal peasant households migrate to other districts of the state, and even outside, in search of livelihood opportunities in sugar factories and brick kilns. Seasonal migration compensates for the lack of employment opportunities during the dry season and reduces seasonal income variability of the poor households in Beed district.


Seasonal migration is often perceived as a response to poverty and environmental change. It has long been a part of livelihood strategy (as an alternative route for income through wage labour) of the people of rural areas (Rogaly 1998; Haberfeld et al 1999; Rao 1994; Rogaly et al 2001; de Haan 2002). The ability of seasonal migration to reduce vulnerability and increase livelihood security of the poor is widely recognised (Black et al 2011; Scheffran et al 2012; Tacoli 2009). Studies have found that people belonging to remote rural areas, the chronically poor, landless, and those with low educational attainments are more likely to migrate seasonally/temporarily (Breman 1978, 1985, 1994, 1996; Deshinkar and Farrington 2009; Keshri and Bhagat 2012).

Seasonal migration is widespread in rural Maharashtra where agriculture is entirely rain-fed (Breman 1978; Teerink 1995). After sowing the rabi crops, the villagers have no work and face the prospect of a lengthy period of unemployment. In order to tide over the lean season, thousands of small and marginal peasant households migrate in search of work opportunities in sugar factories, brick kilns, and stone quarries. Their destinations may be other districts of the state, or even beyond state boundaries. Such seasonal migration is undertaken largely in anticipation of adverse effects on livelihood and to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause. This article, which is based on our fieldwork in Beed district, attempts to draw connections between seasonal migration and the rural crisis.

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Updated On : 12th Oct, 2019
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