By Prabhudatta Mishra
Daily arrivals of rabi crops have all of the sudden improved over the previous week – one-to-four occasions for wheat, masur, chana and mustard and 10 occasions within the case of barley – after mandis throughout the nation reopened on April 15. However, extra steps could also be required to carry normalcy into the agriculture provide chains because the arrivals are nonetheless 23-90% decrease than the year-ago ranges (see chart).
“In some places where harvesting is already done, farmers are not ready to bring their crops to mandis due to the fear of getting infected by coronavirus. In many other places, harvesting is yet to be in full steam, due to various restrictions and non-availability or shortage of labour,” mentioned a authorities official. The easing of restrictions on the agriculture sector has proven some outcomes, however return to normalcy will take time, he mentioned.
As on April 16, day by day arrivals of rabi crops akin to wheat, paddy, masur, chana and mustard have been a lot beneath the degrees a 12 months in the past, whilst report harvest is anticipated of most of them. Only the arrivals of maize, largely grown in Bihar, are above final 12 months’s degree.
“There are no combine harvesters (machines) available for wheat. Without labour, it is very difficult to harvest this key rabi crop,” mentioned Anil Singh, a farmer in Mitai village close to Hathras. Many different farmers within the village too are ready for the arrivals of harvesters to do the reducing, he mentioned.
Though the federal government had relaxed the motion of mix harvesters throughout the lockdown interval as early as on March 25, the precise motion of those machines haven’t began in most locations but because the police blocked inter-state actions and the drivers haven’t reported for obligation. The dwelling ministry on April four allowed the opening of “shops of agricultural machinery, its spare parts (including its supply chain) and repairs and shops for truck repairs on highways, preferably at fuel pumps, can remain open in order to facilitate transportation of farm produce”.
“As the lockdown was initially announced without any comprehensive plan, all sorts of problems came out. While in many places, the police stopped farmers from harvesting crops, trading of grains and oilseeds in mandis remained closed. Only some quantity of fruits and vegetables were allowed,” mentioned Sudhir Panwar, president of Kisan Jagriti Manch. The phase-wise relaxations for the agriculture sector proved that the federal government was not ready, not even conscious of what was required, Panwar mentioned.
On April 15, the Centre launched a name centre to facilitate transportation of agriculture produce for inter-state motion of perishables like vegetables and fruit as additionally inputs like seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. Truck drivers, merchants, retailers, transporters and different stakeholders, who had been dealing with issues in inter-state motion of any commodities, have been requested to hunt assist from the decision centre.
Of course, the farmer misery resulting from these steps have gotten partially addressed by the use of assorted sops delivered to them. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme, some `16,930 crore have been disbursed to just about 8.5 crore farmers by way of the direct profit switch (DBT) route since March 24. Railways have additionally launched 67 new routes for working 236 parcel specials to produce important commodities, together with perishable horticultural produce, agricultural inputs like seed, fertiliser and pesticides, milk and dairy merchandise at quick pace which can facilitate FPOs/merchants and corporations for continuity of provide chain throughout the nation.
However, a plan to permit farmers commerce exterior mandis via the e-NAM portal from the premises of warehouses and FPOs is but to be applied. Panwar mentioned such initiatives need to be publicised at a large scale in order that farmers know there are alternatives out there exterior mandis the place they will promote.