The Union government has exempted agriculture and allied activities from the nationwide lockdown, as it looks to ensure uninterrupted harvesting of crops to avoid any adverse impact on the sector that contributes 15% of India’s gross domestic product.
This decision was taken to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential items to the common man, said a release by the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare. The move will also ensure that farmers and common people do not face any problem during the lockdown, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease. The government has issued directions to all central ministries and departments as well as designated officials of states governments and UT administrations.
The ministry has been monitoring the situation in the agriculture sector ever since the announcement of the lockdown. Union minister for agriculture and farmers welfare Narendra Singh Tomar was apprised of the possible problems in the sector during the harvesting season.
The ministry has exempted the following categories and activities from the lockdown.
- Agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products, including minimum support price operations.
- Mandis operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee or as notified by the state government.
- Farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field.
- Custom Hiring Centres related to farm machinery.
- Manufacturing and packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds.
- Movement of harvesting and sowing related machines such as combined harvester and other agriculture/horticulture implements.
- The coronavirus outbreak is expected to have an adverse effect on the agriculture sector. The biggest challenge for the sector is the curbs on the movement of labourers and farm products.
While farm produce is exempted from the lockdown, law enforcement agencies are creating problems for their movement. The farmers are already concerned about the standing crops of wheat, mustard and pulses. The sector has already taken a hit due to the recent unseasonal rains. The availability of farm workers has become an issue because of the lockdown.