The Uttar Pradesh Government has geared up to ensure that farmers face no inconvenience in harvesting and wheat procurement during the lockdown period, State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said on Wednesday.
Wheat procurement has begun through 5,500 procurement centres in UP and harvest has also picked up the pace. The target for purchasing wheat has been set at 55 lakh tonnes, Surya Pratap told Republic TV. He also mentioned that online tokens have been arranged to avoid a rush at the purchasing centres.
The steps by the Uttar Pradesh Government came shortly after the Ministry of Home allowed various sectors providing essential services to function during the lockdown. Farming activities have been expanded and allowed to remain operational during this period.
"Farming operations, including procurement of agricultural products, agriculture marketing through notified Mandis and direct and decentralized marketing, manufacture, distribution and retail of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds; activities of marine and inland fisheries; animal husbandry activities, including the supply chain of milk, milk products, poultry and livestock farming; and tea, coffee and rubber plantations are allowed to be functional," read the guidelines released by MHA.
Earlier on Sunday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that farmers should be given relief from the lockdown to harvest crop, and the Uttar Pradesh government would encourage institutions and agencies to purchase food grains directly from the growers at minimum support price (MSP) or higher.
"At the meeting, the chief minister said since harvesting season is on, farmers should be allowed to move. Apart from government purchasing centres, if other institutions and agencies want to buy crops directly from farmers, they would be encouraged to do so provided the price is on par with the MSP or above," Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi told reporters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, extended the nationwide lockdown till May 3, as a measure to prevent the spread of deadly COVID-19 which has infected almost 12,000 people in the country and claimed more than 390 lives.