CHANDIGARH: Due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, vegetable farmers of Punjab and Haryana are fearing major losses as their produce is finding no takers.
Talking to this correspondent, Puneet Singh Thind, National Director of Vegetable
Growers Association of India, says, "Farmers who have grown green peas, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, green onion, coriander and pumpkin have been affected as their crops are lying in the fields and not being picked up. In the coming days, capsicum will also be affected.’’
"In both the states, labour is not allowed to work, thus the workings of the mandis is affected and the wholesalers are facing problems in supplying the crop to the retailers and government agencies, so the outbound supply of these crops is blocked. The farmers are helpless as they see their crops dying. In a matter of a few days, all crops will be gone. The efforts of district administrations to allow retail operations will support only a fraction and the major part of the produce will be lost," he says.
Thind adds, "Many farmers have taken land on rent and normally for vegetable
farming, land rents are higher than conventional crops. Such farmers will be badly impacted. The solution is for the administration to register and inspect farmers' fields and the producers should be compensated from the Covid relief fund at least for their cultivation and labour cost to save them."
"A few lakhs of acres of land in Haryana and Punjab is under vegetable cultivation in the present winter season from November to March and these crops have been affected as they were now in the final stage. In the next summer season from April to August, summer vegetables might get affected if this prolongs. The green chilli cultivation was to start any day now and it might be delayed," says Malkeet Singh, Director of Northern Farmers Association, which is an umbrella body of 46 farmer producer organizations, each of which has 200 to 250 farmers as members.
"Around 50 per cent of potato crop is affected as it is lying in the open in the fields and will perish as it is sensitive to heat. The supply chain has been disrupted unnecessarily as work in the fields and transportation of vegetables and fruits to mandis has been stopped. The authorities only allowed transportation from mandis to cities. On Wednesday, the Punjab agriculture department issued an advisory to all Deputy Commissioners of the state to allow this supply chain but the police is harassing the farmers and labourers going to the fields," says Jang Bahadur, Secretary General of Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers (CPSF).
It is expected that 27 lakh tonnes of potatoes will be produced this year.
(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)