Like most of India's farming regions, Koroan, in the south of Allahabad District, Uttar Pradesh, has no significant industries and local wage opportunities are largely confined to agriculture and its related infrastructure. As such, farms, canals, roads and buildings are the work-sites on which the poor depend. Drawing on a small survey of two villages (undertaken between November 2001 and February 2002), this paper reviews the role of agriculture and rural infrastructure as employers of unskilled labour. It sets out the trends in supply (quantity) and terms (quality) of labour opportunities in agriculture and off-farm works. It presents the types of labour contract in use at present, and who among different labouring communities is working in each. Through historical interviews, it reviews the origins and the likely future of these changing contractual arrangements.