Farmers’ organisations are concerned at the possible impact of the lockdown on farmers and agriculture workers. They have urged the Centre and State governments to announce a special package for the farm sector as the harvesting of the rabi season and the sowing of the kharif season will be impacted by the lockdown.
RSS-backed Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make special efforts in States such as Rajasthan where harvesting has begun. BKS general secretary Badri Narayan Chowdhury told BusinessLine that there are reports that farmers face difficulties in getting diesel for tractors.
“Farmers in villages already maintain social distance as they will be working in their farms away from their homes and areas where social gatherings happen. There is no issue of fear and panic in villages. The weather is also changing,” Chowdhury said.
The Left-leaning All India Kisan Sabha said the peasantry is in extreme distress due to slowdown in marketing, price crash, wastage and spoilage of vegetables, fruits, flowers, milk, poultry and meat. “Lockdown has also led to a scenario where farm produce is not marketable. Industrial closure also adversely affects the peasantry. An assessment of losses with adequate compensation should be immediately announced and an interim assistance package has to be declared forthwith,” AIKS leaders Hannan Mollah and Ashok Dhawle said in a statement.
They urged the Centre to nationalise and expand health facilities to make quality health services accessible to all. “Ensure speedy effective testing of people with symptoms; provide masks, sanitisers and clean, hygienic treatment, isolation facilities for all affected through public investment and forcing the corporate companies to pay. A comprehensive package for the peasantry, agricultural workers, working class and all vulnerable sections involving a monthly allowance of ₹5,000, free seeds and subsidised agricultural inputs, free foodgrains and rations for the next six months that may be continued subject to reassessment of scenario, free medical check-up and treatment for Covid-19,” they demanded.
Farmers’ leader from Western Uttar Pradesh Jitendra Singh Hudda said middlemen are taking advantage of the situation. “Rate of milk given for farmers has decreased but the consumer has to pay a higher price. Agriculture labourers suffer the most as they depend on daily wage. A comprehensive package is the only way ahead,” Hudda said.