Chandigarh, Mar 26 (PTI) With harvesting of wheat crop set to commence in the next few days in Haryana, worried farmers want the state government to make arrangements to help them store the produce before it is procured amid the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar assured the farmers on Thursday that every single grain will be procured, although there will be some delay but they are apprehensive.
“Wheat harvesting will start from April 5 while mustard harvesting has already started. We have no arrangement to store these crops. The government should make arrangement for gunny bags and tarpaulin sheets. In normal times, farmers take their produce straight from the fields to procurement mandis,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader from Haryana, Gurnam Singh told PTI over the phone.
In his televised address to people of the state, Khattar said the farmers don't need to worry as the government has prepared a mechanism to procure every single grain of theirs, although there can be some delay in the process.
With the 21-day nationwide lockdown in place, the chief minister said, “As we know that it is not possible to procure till April 14, we have made changes in dates of procurement. From April 15, procurement of mustard will be done while wheat will be procured from April 20. We will begin our procurement on these dates if situation normalises by then.” He also said that as ripened crop of mustard and wheat cannot be left in the fields by then, the farmers have been advised to stock the produce as much as possible in their homes while instructions have been given to state agencies like the Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board to assist farmers in stocking the produce.
As some delay in crop procurement is expected, Khattar said, “We have written to the Centre to prepare a scheme to give incentives to farmers and I am hopeful that the Union government will soon come out with such a scheme. Once such a scheme is announced, the state government will also do its bit to extend help to the farmers'.
Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja wrote a letter to CM Khattar on Thursday drawing his attention to the problems likely to be faced by farmers in the wake of delay in procurement of crops.
Selja said the state government should set up a round-the-clock dedicated helpline for farmers where all their concerns should be clarified.
Demanding waiving of crop loans, she also said that the credit limit of Kisan Credit Cards used by farmers should be increased.
As delay is expected in wheat procurement, the government should make arrangement to store the produce of farmers or get it lifted directly from their fields, she said in the letter.
Meanwhile, BKU's Gurnam Singh said the government should not wait till April 20 to procure wheat. “By that time, 90 per cent of wheat would have been harvested and procurement mandis are flooded with the crop at one go and will not help the situation. The government should make arrangements to procure it from the fields at its own pace,” he added.
Singh also said the government should give advance of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per acre to the farmers who have to pay to farm labourers and to meet other expenses related to harvesting and storing of crop.
“The government can deduct this amount later from farmers accounts when they procure the produce and make payment to farmers for it,” he said.
When asked if there was any shortage of animal feed, Singh said the shops selling fodder remain open for some time enabling farmers to buy as per requirement.
“However, farmers are facing some problem in getting fertilisers as shops remain mostly closed,” he claimed. PTI SUN VSD HDA HDA