HomeAnalysisDo not forget to take care of your workers this winter

Do not forget to take care of your workers this winter

WE have been able to cover a lot of issues concerning winter since we are in the season. What remains outstanding is perhaps the most important one of them all — how to treat your staff this winter.

Working hours
Generally farm work must start the earliest in the day. In most cases, by 5am workers should be in the field, especially when you are harvesting for the fresh markets. They will then finish work at 1pm.

The argument is that when it is hot, people can hardly concentrate on their work after lunch. So it is better to go into the fields very early and also leave early.

When it comes to the start of day, farmers go in even earlier or overnight so that they hit the market as early as possible.

However, in winter, farmers must consider starting work a bit later, say 7am so that they do not work in the freezing cold.

Remember, even if it is not raining there will be so much dew which makes it very difficult for them to work.

Food
According to a human resources expert Kennedy Chikuwa, of Global Tech Human Capital Corporation, farm work is directly proportional to the food the workers eat.

During winter it is encouraged that farmers start the day with a warm cup of tea for the workers. It does not necessarily have to be accompanied by bread or anything — just warm water, tea leaves and sugar.

Or even porridge, with lemons or plain, just to warm the body system up.

At break time, farmers can then arrange for tea with bread or sweet potatoes.

When making annual plans or cropping plans farmers are always encouraged to make sure they plant something for the workers to consume, especially sweet potatoes, barley and wheat.

Clothes
It is the duty of the farmer to ensure that workers have protective clothing, in the same vein, it is the duty of the farmer to make sure that the workers are warmly dressed during the winter period.

Jerseys, extra dust coats and socks are appreciated. In most cases farm workers wear their gumboots without socks and you can imagine when the gumboot gets wet with water the discomfort the farmer goes through. Without proper clothing the workers will get sick and there will be no one to tend to the fields and the animals.

Shelter and medication

Farm workers are the most exploited when it comes to remuneration. Their wages are in most cases meagre and at the same time their living conditions are deplorable.

Most start-up farmers do not have adequate shelter for their workers and are forced to put up wooden cabins. While these efforts go a long way in alleviating accommodation challenges at the farm, it must be noted that when it is cold, wooden cabins are very cold as well.

Funds permitting, farmers must put up brick and mortar structures for their workers. It will not go down well with farmer workers if the pigs are in a better shelter than they as it will de-motivate them.

At the same time, winter comes with colds and flus, farmers must prepare some off-the-counter medication for their workers so that whenever they fall sick, there is a quick remedy.

There must also be a first aid box for the farm workers just in case they get injured.

We all know that injuries in winter take longer to heal and must be treated quickly.

Because farm workers earn little, they can hardly afford to buy themselves medication for their injuries.

In conclusion, while in winter, we must not only worry about our crops and animals but we must also worry about those that look after them.

Those that perform night duties like watering at night to fight frost must have firewood for the long haul. Even the night guards need fires to warm them up.

  • Gwabanayi is a practising journalist and a farmer in his own right. — 0772 865 703 or gwabanayi@gmail.com

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