Lockdown woes of farmers in Uttar Pradesh
The coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown have not only left industries and businesses reeling under its impact, but it is the farming sector which has been hit the hardest considering India is an agrarian country and agriculture sector is the backbone of our economy.
It is double whammy for Uttar Pradesh farmers as well. They don't have farm machines and labourers to harvest the ripe crops of sugarcane and wheat and even if they somehow manage to do it they don't have place to store it. Lakhs of hectares of sugarcane and wheat crops are just ready for harvest.
Agricultural expert Amokant said that the wheat crops are ready to harvest in the last week of March. But this time there are no labourers adding to the woes of farmers. Any delay in harvesting will lead to damage to crops because of forecast of rains. Farmers will suffer in all the cases. Even harvesting machines are not allowed in the villages due to lockdown.
Harnam Verma, Uttar Pradesh president of Bhartiya Kisan Union, said, "The harvest of major rabi crops - wheat, chana, and mustard as well as vegetable crops including potato is already underway. Leaving the harvest mid-way will expose the ready crop to vagaries of the weather. Things will get bad if government does not intervene."
Prof Sudhir Pawar, former member of the Planning Commission, said, "Hailstorms, unseasonal rains and squalls have damaged at least 30 per cent of the crops and now came the lockdown. If crops are left in the field they will wither away. Though government has announced a relief package, but God knows when it will reach to the farmers."
However, the Utrar Pradesh government has asked the shops dealing in seeds, fertilisers and pesticides to open, and labourers have been allowed to work in the fields, but the fear of coronavirus is topmost in the minds of people. The government must provide proper machinery to alleviate the woes of farmers, experts said.