With 35 days into the nationwide lockdown, one major area of concern has been agriculture. The harvest season for farmers has come amidst a pandemic. One major worry has been that despite a bumper crop, the farmer might not find buyers for their produce. This has led to numerous steps being taken by both the Central government as well as state governments across the country.
PROCUREMENT WINDOW EXTENSION: In order to ease farmer distress in selling pulses and oilseeds, the Centre announced an extended 90-day procurement window for all states. The procurement period was originally meant to end on April 30. 25% of oilseed and pulses are procured by states at the minimum support price (MSP) from farmers.
WHOLESALE OF PRODUCE PERMITTED: Soon after the commencement of the lockdown, steps were taken to ensure farmers are not aggrieved. On 27 March, the Center allowed the functioning of wholesale markets to ensure farmers had a market for their produce, even during the lockdown. The wholesale markets being opened also means that the bulk of the produce is sold at one go, ensuring more income for the farmers.
INCREASE IN DIRECT MARKETING: On the suggestion of the Centre, state governments have adopted the concept of direct marketing of farm produce without insisting on licensing procedures and facilitating the farmer. This process has helped ensure the sale of agri-products to bulk buyers. Timely marketing and sale of farm produce to ensure the agri-products do not rot.
DISBURSEMENTS UNDER THE PM KISAN SAMMAN NIDHI SCHEME: The government transferred an installment of Rs 2000 under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to 8.69 crore beneficiaries. This is aimed at ensuring that farmers can tide through the lockdown without extreme financial worry.