Centre worried lockdown exemptions for farmers not percolating to field level

More relaxations for agriculture-farming sector, tea industry

Centre worried lockdown exemptions for farmers not percolating to field level

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 4

The Centre is worried that its relaxations and exemptions to ensure farmers do not suffer from any adverse fallout due to coronavirus lockdown are not percolating to field agencies and grassroots.

Home Minister Amit Shah himself is monitoring the aspect on which future of farmers and agriculture is dependent, say sources, referring to the MHA letter to states yesterday to ensure that exceptions allowed under lockdown measures with respect to farming operations are effectively communicated to field agencies.

Smooth harvesting and sowing operations, while maintaining social distancing need to be ensured, say officials.

“Though exceptions have been allowed for farming operations by farmers and farm workers, procurement of agricultural productions, operation of mandis, movement of harvesting and sowing related machinery, however, as per information received, these exemptions have not percolated down at the field level,” Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla yesterday again reminded chief secretaries of states.

Apart from the earlier exemptions, the government has announced more relaxations for the sector.

Govt has granted a slew of exemptions and relaxations for agriculture and allied sectors to ensure farmers do not suffer from any adverse fallout of the lockdown

They include agriculture-farming sector shops of agricultural machinery, spare parts and repair, truck repair shops on highways and also tea industry, including plantations.

Officials say the Centre has granted a slew of exemptions and relaxations for agriculture and allied sectors to ensure farmers do not suffer from any adverse fallout of the lockdown. In this regard, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued the fourth addendum to the notification invoking the Disaster Management Act as per which 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.

Besides, tea industry, including plantations can function with maximum of 50% workers.

The Home Ministry says it is the responsibility of the head of the organisation/establishment to ensure the practice of social distancing norms and proper hygiene.

Agricultural and allied activities are exempted from the lockdown to facilitate unhindered activities related to agriculture and farming and ensure essential supplies and farmers do not face any difficulty during the lock-down. 

They include veterinary hospitals; agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products, including MSP operations;  ‘mandis’ operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee as notified by the state government; farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field; custom hiring centres (CHC) related to farm machinery; manufacturing and packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds; intra- and inter-state movement of harvesting and sowing related machines like combined harvester and other agriculture/ horticulture implements.

The advisory on precautions for harvesting and threshing of Rabi crops and post-harvest, storage and marketing of farm produce also says farmers can delay wheat harvesting till April 20 without incurring any significant loss.

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