Hamstrung by the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Haryana government has put off procurement operations for the two Rabi crops - wheat and mustard – till mid April.
Wheat and mustard procurement usually begins on April 1 every year. But since the lockdown period ends on April 14, the procurement had to be deferred.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday said mustard procurement will start from April 15 and the wheat procurement from April 20, contingent to the situation normalising by then.
In his televised address to people of the state, he said, “Till the time procurement gets underway, farmers should store the harvested food grains in their homes. The Haryana State Agriculture Marketing Board (HSAMB) will also find solutions for storage of food grains during pre-procurement period.”
The state government will also push for staggered procurement to ease up congestion and glut in mandis, Khattar said.
Khattar assured farmers that every single grain will be procured though there will be some delay.
Officials said the chief CM will write to the Central government for facilitating staggered procurement.
“Financial incentives could be offered to growers for staggered procurement that is done within 15-30 days. Since the storage and handling cost of food grains will come down if procurement is done in a phased manner, the government can redirect the amount towards growers as incentive,’’ said an official.
Mechanised harvesting, a priority
The agriculture and farmers welfare department on Thursday asked the district magistrates to ensure mechanised harvesting takes precedence over manual harvesting in view of coronavirus threat.
Additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, Sanjeev Kaushal, said the maximum uses of agricultural machinery be made during harvesting and manual harvesting be restored to only as a last option. The operator of the harvesting machinery and tools of the manual harvesters should be sanitised at least three to five times a day. Also, the tools used by one person should not used by others.
Not more than five persons should be deployed for operating combine harvester machines and masks and gloves should be used, Kaushal said. The ACS has also asked the district magistrates to facilitate movement and supply of fertilizers to ensure statewide availability to farmers.
“A limited three-hour window from 10 in the morning for government sector shops and a need-based roster for private sector shops can be prescribed as per the farmers’ requirement,’’ he wrote.
Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja wrote to 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 waiver of crop loans, she also said that the credit limit of Kisan Credit Cards used by farmers should be increased.
‘GIVE FARMERS ADVANCE’
BKU leader Gurnam 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.
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 problem in getting fertilisers as shops remain mostly closed,” he said. (With PTI inputs)