Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday asked the Centre and the state governments to accord top priority to farmers and agriculture during the lockdown and advised them to facilitate the smooth conduct of farming activities and transportation of agri-produce during this period.
During an interaction with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the Vice President appreciated various measures taken by the Agriculture Ministry to protect the farm sector. According to an official release, the Vice President laid stress on safeguarding the interests of both producers and consumers.
"Producers in agriculture are not organised and often their views go unheard. So it is the duty of the governments to protect their interests," Naidu said.
Naidu said that though it is mainly the duty of the states, the Centre should guide and help them from time to time in this regard. Calling for more focus on perishable agro-produce such as fruits and vegetables, Naidu further said that special care must be taken of storage and marketing of these perishables.
He also suggested tweaking of the APMC Act suitably so as to facilitate the purchase of farm produce directly from the farmers so that nobody is forced to go to the mandi. This will help in ensuring adequate availability of fruits, vegetables and other agri-commodities to the consumers, he said.
Laying stress on the need to ensure smooth transportation of farm produce, he asked the authorities to ensure that there is no hindrance during such transportation.
Meanwhile, the Centre has imposed a complete lockdown in India till May 3 as a measure to prevent the spread of deadly COVID-19 which has infected more than 11,000 people in the country and claimed more than 300 lives. While all other activities have been brought at a halt in the wake of nationwide lockdown, the manufacture and supply of essentials commodities continue to function in the country.
As a plan of action ahead of monsoon, the Maharashtra government has issued revised protocol to be followed by the citizens during the three-week-long curfew. While many of the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra Government follow those issued by the Centre, one additional that sticks out is that all the urgent pre-monsoon related works will continue during the lockdown.