Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Seasonal Migration as a Livelihood Strategy of Women Agricultural Labourers in Soul Ponamara Mouza of Hirbandh Block, Bankura District, West Bengal


Seasonal migration is a common livelihood strategy among marginal and landless people of the western part of West Bengal. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and Census data have failed to provide information on seasonal migration and livelihoods at the micro-level. The present study focuses on the nature, characteristics and factors of seasonal migration with its importance as a livelihood strategy among women agricultural labourers (WALs) in Soul Ponamara mouza of Hirbandh block at the micro-level. The study is based on primary data collection using a purposive sampling method and a semi-structured questionnaire, personal interview and focus group discussion. This study reveals that seasonal migration from Soul Ponamara to the adjacent agriculturally prosperous districts viz. Purba Bardhaman and Hooghly (4 to 6 times in a year) is a common livelihood strategy among WALs in the study area, and its proportion is almost equal to when compared to male migrants. The small size of agricultural land holding, existing monoculture system, lack of irrigation facilities, a limited job opportunity in the Soul Ponamara mouza and its surrounding area (Amjhuri, Bijardihi, Chaka Doba, Moshiara, Bamni and Rangametia) provoke women labourers to move out in searching of works. In contrast, high wage and massive demand for skilled and semi-skilled agricultural labourers during sowing and harvesting season in the destination area, that is, paddy and potato fields of Purba Bardhaman and Hooghly districts acted as a magnet to absorb these immigrants into the workforce. This study concludes that seasonal migration opted for employment and income generation is the primary livelihood strategy adopted by the rural WALs of this mouza to cope up with the existing poverty and food insecurity.


Livelihood Strategy, Agricultural Labourer, Seasonal Migration, Food Insecurity, Sustainable Integrated Plan, Bankura, West Bengal, India



  1. Adhikari, B., Bag, M. K., Bhowmick, M. K., & Kundu, C. (2011). Status paper on rice in West Bengal. Rice Research Station, Government of West Bengal, India.
  2. Agarwal, B. (1990). Social security and the family: Coping with seasonality and calamity in rural India. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 17(3), 341–412. DOI:
  3. Asfaw, W., Tolossa, D., & Zeleke, G. (2010). Causes and impacts of seasonal migration on rural livelihoods: Case studies from Amhara Region in Ethiopia. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift, 64(1), 58–70. DOI:
  4. Beck, T. (1989). Survival strategies and power amongst the poorest in a West Bengal Village. IDS Bulletin, 20(2), 23–32. DOI:
  5. Berchoux, T., Watmough, G. R., Hutton, C. W., & Atkinson, P. M. (2019). Agricultural shocks and drivers of livelihood precariousness across Indian rural communities. Landscape and Urban Planning, 189, 307-319. DOI:
  6. Biswal, M. (2020). Impact of seasonal migration on children of a scheduled caste community in western Odisha, India. EPRA International Journal of Economic and Business Review, 72-78. DOI:
  7. Census of India. (2011a). Bankura district census Abstract. http.// on, accessed on 20/5/2018
  8. Census of India. (2011b). Bankura district village directory. http.// on, accessed on 20/4/2019
  9. Chandrasekhar, C. P., & Ghosh, J. (2007, September 25). Dealing with short-term migration. The Hindu, Business Line, p. 12.
  10. Chandrasekhar, S., & Sahoo, S. (2018). Short-term migration in rural India: The impact of nature and extent of participation in agriculture (No. 2018-016). Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
  11. De Haan, A., Brock, K., & Coulibaly, N. (2002). Migration, livelihoods and institutions: Contrasting patterns of migration in Mali. Journal of Development Studies, 38(5), 37-58. DOI:
  12. Debnath, M. (2020). Exploring the behavior of seasonal agricultural migrants in the Rarh region of West Bengal, India. Spatial Information Research. DOI:
  13. Debnath, M., & Nayak, D. K. (2020). Assessing drought-induced temporary migration as an adaptation strategy: Evidence from rural India. Migration and Development, 1-22. DOI:
  14. Deshingkar, P., & Start, D. (2003). Seasonal migration for livelihoods in India: Coping, accumulation and exclusion. Overseas Development Institute..
  15. District Human Development Report (2007). Development and Planning Department, Government of West Bengal. Kolkata.
  16. District Statistical Handbook(2014). Department of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of West Bengal.
  17. Ellis, F. (2008). The determinants of rural livelihood diversification in developing countries. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 51(2), 289–302. DOI:
  18. Fernando, R. L. S., & Gunasekara, H. O. C. (2019). Poverty reduction efforts in siyambalanduwa divisional secretariat in Monaragala district in Sri Lanka: Problems and prospects. In R. et al (Ed.). Social Welfare Policies and Programmes in South Asia (pp. 195–213). DOI:
  19. Filep, B. (2009). Interview and translation strategies: Coping with multilingual settings & data. Social Geography, 4(1), 59-70. DOI:
  20. Garikipati, S. (2008). Agricultural wage work, seasonal migration and the widening gender gap: Evidence from a semi-arid region of Andhra Pradesh. European Journal of Development Research, 20(4), 629–648. DOI:
  21. Gautam, Y. (2017). Seasonal migration and livelihood resilience in the face of climate change in Nepal. Mountain Research and Development, 37(4), 436. DOI:
  22. Ghosh, R. & Mal, S. (2017). Impacts of rural labour migration of south Bengal: A case study of Bankura and Purulia districts of West Bengal, India. Global Journal of Human -Social Science,17(7), 25-32.
  23. Gill, G. J. (2003). Seasonal labour migration in rural Nepal : a preliminary overview.
  24. Gundappa, & Dsouza, A. A. (2014). Migration of agricultural labourers and its impact on the farming sector. Journal of Social Sciences, 6(3), 202–213.
  25. Hazell, P., & Ramasamy, C. (1991). The green revolution reconsidered: The impact of high-yielding rice varieties in South India.
  26. Hussain, A., Memon, J. A., & Hanif, S. (2020). Weather shocks, coping strategies and farmers’ income: A case of rural areas of district Multan, Punjab. Weather and Climate Extremes, 30, 100288. DOI:
  27. Hussain, M. (1996). Systematic agricultural geography. Rawat Publications, New Delhi, India.
  28. Islam, M., Kashem, S., Morshed, S., Rahman, M., & Das, A. (2019). Dynamics of seasonal migration of rural livelihood; capital formation perspective. Advanced Journal of Social Science,5(1),81-92. DOI:
  29. Keshri, K., & Bhagat, R. B. (2010). Temporary and seasonal migration in India. Genus, 66(3), 25–45.
  30. Keshri,K., & Bhagat, R.B. (2012). Temporary and seasonal migration: Regional pattern, characteristics and associated factors. Economic and Political Weekly, 47(4), 81-88.
  31. Keshri, K., & Bhagat, R. B. (2013). Socioeconomic determinants of temporary labour migration in India: A regional analysis. Asian Population Studies, 9(2), 175–195. DOI:
  32. Khatun, D., & Roy, B. C. (2016). Rural livelihood diversification in West Bengal: Nature and extent. Agricultural Economics Research Review, 29(2), 183. DOI:
  33. Lindstrom, D. P., & Ramírez, A. L. (2010). Pioneers and followers: Migrant selectivity and the development of U.S. migration streams in Latin America. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 630(1), 53–77. DOI:
  34. Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India (2020). Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
  35. Mishra, D.K. (2016). Seasonal migration from Odisha: a view from the field. In D.K. Mishra (Eds.), Internal migration in Contemporary India (pp. 263-290). Sage Publiation India Pvt. Ltd.
  36. Mishra, D. K. (2020). Seasonal migration and unfree labour in globalising India: Insights from Field surveys in Odisha. The Indian Journal of Labour Economics. DOI:
  37. National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land use Planning (2010). Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Retrieved from
  38. Panda, P., & Agarwal, B. (2005). Marital violence, human development and women's property status in India. World Development, 33(5), 823–850. DOI:
  39. Panda, S. S., & Mishra, N. R. (2018). Factors affecting temporary labour migration for seasonal work: A review. Management Research Review, 41(10), 1176-1200. DOI:
  40. Rademacher-Schulz, C., Schraven, B., & Mahama, E. S. (2014). Time matters: Shifting seasonal migration in Northern Ghana in response to rainfall variability and food insecurity. Climate and Development, 6(1), 46–52. DOI:
  41. Rafique, A. (2003). Floods, poverty and , seasonal migration. Economic and Political Weekly, 38(10), 943–945.
  42. Rai, P. (2020). Seasonal masculinities: Seasonal labour migration and masculinities in rural western India. Gender,Place & Culture, 27(2), 260-280. DOI:
  43. Ravenstein, E. G. (1889). The laws of migration. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, 52(2), 241. DOI:
  44. Regmi, K., Naidoo, J., & Pilkington, P. (2010). Understanding the processes of translation and transliteration in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 9(1), 16-26. DOI:
  45. Rogaly, B. (2010). Workers on the move: Seasonal migration and changing social relations in rural India. 2074, 20–29. DOI:
  46. Rogaly, B., Biswas, J., Coppard, D., Rafique, A., Rana, K., & Sengupta, A. (2001). Seasonal migration, social change and migrants? Rights: Lessons from West Bengal. Economic and Political Weekly, 36(49), 4547–4559.
  47. Rogaly, B., & Coppard, D. (2003). “They used to go to eat, now they go to earn”: The changing meanings of seasonal migration from Puruliya District in West Bengal, India. Journal of Agrarian Change, 3(3), 395–433. DOI:
  48. Rogaly, B., Coppard, D., Rafique, A., Rana, K., Sengupta, A., & Biswas, J. (2002). Seasonal migration and welfare/illfare in eastern India: A social analysis. Journal of Development Studies, 38(5), 89–114. DOI:
  49. Serrat, O. (2017). The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach. In O. Serrat (Ed.), Knowledge Solutions (pp. 21–26). DOI:
  50. Siddiqui, K. (2019, December 16). Bankura tops nation in MGNREGA performance. The Statesman, p. 14.
  51. Singh, U. P. (2002). Boro rice in Eastern India. rice-wheat consortium regional technical coordination committee meeting. 10-14 February 2002. Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains, New Delhi, India.
  52. Singh, N. P., Singh, R. P., Kumar, R., Padaria, R. N., Singh, A., & Varghese, N. (2011). Labour migration in Indo-Gangetic plains: Determinants and impacts on socio-economic welfare. Agricultural Economics Research Review, 24, 449–458.
  53. Sundari, S. (2005). Migration as a livelihood strategy: A gender perspective. Economic and Political Weekly, 40(22), 2295–2303.
  54. Temple, B. & Young, A. (2004). Qualitative research and translation dilemmas. Qualitative Research, 4(2), 161-178. DOI:
  55. Thapa, R., & Yadav, S. K. (2015). Rural labour migration in India : Magnitude and characteristics. International Journal of Applied Research, 1(2), 114–118.
  56. Walker, T. S., & Ryan, J. G. (1990). Village and household economies in India’s semi-arid tropics. Baltimore.: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  57. Zelinsky, W. (1971). The hypothesis of the mobility transition. Geographical Review, 61(2), 219. DOI:


Download data is not yet available.