With the country come under a 21-day lockdown to contain the pandemic coronavirus outbreak, farmers’ bodies are demanding both central and state governments for immediate measures to prevent an impending crisis in the agriculture sector.
In Telangana, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao assured farmers on Tuesday that the government will procure their farm produce directly from villages at a minimum support price.
“Procuring farm produce at village level is commendable in such times but the process should begin immediately since most of the Rabi crops in Telangana have already been harvested and the farmers are facing difficulty in selling the produce,” said Sagar, General Secretary at the Telangana Committee of the All India Kisan Sabha. He told NewsClick that paddy was largely grown during the second crop season and that farmers cannot store their produce with them for a long time. “The government should act promptly before the crop gets damaged,” he added.
Farmers are also facing difficulty in the transport of vegetables produced, on a daily basis. “With the lockdown in place, farmers are giving away their vegetable produce to wholesale retailers at cheaper prices whereas consumers are procuring them at inflated prices,” said Sagar.
In this crisis, agriculture labourers are the most neglected section among the people, says Sayanna of the Telangana Raitanga Samithi. “While the state government announced that it would distribute 12 kilos of rice and Rs 1500 per family to all white ration-card holders, it will be difficult for agriculture labourers and their families. They cannot sustain as they have been left with no work for the last ten days,” Sayanna told NewsClick. “It is highly disappointing that the central government has not even announced any relief package for agriculture and daily labourers who are staring at hunger-related deaths during this pandemic,” he added.
Official data shows that the poultry industry in Telangana bore the brunt of the panic that came with coronavirus outbreak, leading to the reduced consumption of chicken products. According to state government estimates, the poultry industry incurred losses worth over Rs 1000 crore in the first two weeks of March.
In Andhra Pradesh, immediate support to Agriculture marketing is needed during the crisis, said Y. Kesav Rao of Andhra Pradesh Raitu Sangam.
“Rabi crops produced in the state including Maize, pulses and Horticulture crops (Mango) have reached the procurement stage and the lockdown has stagnated markets. Hence, the government should facilitate the procurement process since any delay would render losses to the farmers, tenant farmers and agriculture labourers, as they all are dependent on each other,” said Kesav Rao.
Earlier, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced direct cash transfer of Rs 1000 per family besides ration to poorer sections of the people as a relief package during the lockdown.