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Harvesting in full swing in UP as Yogi govt comes to farmers’ rescue amid lockdown


LUCKNOW: For the state farmers, who were facing huge financial losses owing to untimely rain and hailstorms during January-March, the lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak has proved to be a double whammy.

The future was seemingly uncertain not only for those whose Rabi crop was standing ready in the fields for harvesting but also lakhs of cane-growers in western UP, prepared to plant the saplings. There farmers didn't venture out to their fields due to lockdown and additionally there was dearth of agricultural labourers.

However, the timely intervention by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath brought a big respite to the community. Consequently, harvesting commenced in Uttar Pradesh on April 5 and is going on in full swing.

To bring respite to farmers, the CM contacted the authorities concerned at the Centre seeking permission for allowing farmers and agri-labourers to work in fields amid the lockdown.

“Exemptions in use of combine harvester and other such equipments to harvest Rabi crops, farm workers and opening of fertilizers and seed shops during lockdown were the steps we took to help the farmers’ community,” said state agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi.

The directives to keep seeds, fertilizer and pesticide shops open even during the lockdown helped those who were ready to start sowing of Zaid, said the minister.

Having over 2.50 crore farmers and over three crore farm labourers, Uttar Pradesh, predominantly an agriculture state, is the highest producer of foodgrains, milk and vegetables in the country.

“The state government has ensured that no restriction is imposed on inter-district and intra-district movement of vehicles carrying harvesting machines,” said the minister.

“We, at the agriculture department, kept on sensitizing the scary farmers about working in fields by maintaining social distancing and also with covered faces to ward off the deadly virus. Gradually, they, too, realised it and are now busy in harvesting work,” he added.

Moreover, the farmers are allowed to go to fields and respective district administrations have made it clear that no passes would be required by farmers and agriculture labourers.

The purchase of mustard, gram and lentils (masoor) has started from April 2. This will bring great relief to the farmers of Bundelkhand and Agra division.

The government has announced that it will buy 2.64 lakh metric tonnes of mustard, 2.01 lakh metric tonnes of gram and 1.21 lakh metric tonnes of lentil (masoor) from farmers at Minimum Support Price (MSP), respectively. These purchases will last for 90 days.

The state government has fixed the wheat procurement target of 5.5 million tonnes for 2020-21 and the MSP for wheat has been announced at Rs 1925 per quintal. This year the MSP has been hiked by Rs 85 per quintal. Last year it was Rs 1840 per quintal.