Industries in the agriculture sector raised concerns in a meeting with Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) that any delay in sowing of Kharif crops may lead to difficulties for farmers and the quality of output may also be impacted.
Vivek Kumar M
The nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak has lead to hindrance in the supply of essentials to farmers. Movement of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery and other equipment required for the sowing of kharif crops has become difficult for industries.
“Movement of seeds within Karnataka has been going smoothly. But supplying the seeds to some parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh has become difficult despite the supply of essential and non-essential goods being allowed by the government,” said Santosh Attavar, Chairman and Managing Director of Indo-American Hybrid Seeds (India) Pvt Ltd.
Ritesh Patel, Business Head of Mahindra in Karnataka, raised concern that supply of machinery and other equipment to farmers has become difficult amid lockdown. He said that farmers only have a window of 10 days and any further delay than that would impact the outcome of kharif season.
Kharif season starts in April and the harvest is expected at the end of the monsoon season. Maize, rice, and cotton are some of the major kharif crops.
Ramanand HR, a supplier from the machinery and equipment industry said, “It is not possible to get the machinery from manufacturers or distributors required by the farmers as transportation of VRL, SRE and other private operators have stopped.”
Rajendra Kumar Katariya, secretary to Government (Agriculture, Horticulture and Sericulture) said that drivers of these companies have gone to their native places and getting them back to work has become difficult due to various reasons including lack of transportation and the fear of coronavirus.
To reduce the problems faced by truck and lorry drivers during transportation, Katariya said that some ‘dhabas’ and repair shops on the highways were allowed to stay open.
As per the latest guidelines on the lockdown released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, two drivers and one attendant are allowed to be in a lorry which is involved in the transportation of goods.
Many company officials have also raised concerns over the issuance of e-passes. The Karnataka government has received lakhs of e-pass requests and it has become impossible to review and permit all the requests. Due to this, even those with genuine requirements are missing out on getting e-passes.
Some companies have requested the government to consider company ID cards as passes and allow the transportation of goods.
Secretary Katariya said that the issue was being discussed and a decision on this regard will be taken by the government in a meeting today.
FICCI conducted a webinar and panel discussion to address the concerns relating to agriculture and allied activities and the state of industry amid the coronavirus pandemic and the post COVID-19 scenario.
The lockdown has been extended by the government of India for 19 more days until May 3, 2020. More than 10,000 people have been tested positive for coronavirus in India and over 370 have died so far.