The Dossier
Agriculture in India suffering at the hands of Covid-19

With No Labour In Farms, Landlords In Punjab, Haryana Are The Latest Covid-19 Victims

Agriculture in India suffering at the hands of Covid-19
Credit: Ramkumar Radhakrishnan

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations says, “Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India. 70 per cent of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82 per cent of farmers being small and marginal.”

Agriculture in India is not only one of the world’s largest contributors when it comes to crops like rice, cotton, wheat and sugarcane, but also dairy products stating from milk. Those involved in the field and most literally, on the field, factor up to 16 per cent of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

Clearly, given these little details that amount to such a humongous deal, it is rather unfortunate that the damage incurred due to the novel coronavirus pandemic was unavoidable. The public is very privy to the consequences on the greater economic stability aspect of the country, but not so much to how badly the farmers have become prey at the hands of Covid-19.

The agriculture in India and rural economy are struggling more than ever, and this is especially concerning because it leads nearly half its concerned population into further helplessness and existential affliction. 

The lockdown has managed to strike two of the most important seasons when it comes to the endurance agriculture in India. Respective to the country’s scenario, the agricultural activity is predominantly at its peak during the period lasting from April and June; this is the time that the winter Rabi crops like wheat, peas, gram etc are harvested and sent out in the market. Following this is the sowing of summer rain-fed crops like pulses, cotton and sugarcane; the incomes and livelihoods of those involved in agriculture-dependent on the Kharif season. 

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The coronavirus lockdown has already affected this sector quite adversely, and there seems to be no end in sight. The farmers are having trouble delegating and accessing labourers for the activities that go into the process after their own first-hand work has been done.

According to a report by Feminism In India, ground reality immediately reflects back to the fact that even if agriculture produce were to be exempted from lockdown measures and constraints, there are other issues that line themselves up. For instance, the police department posing a set of problems.

Besides that, the recent heavy rainfall has caused agriculture in India to face some serious crop damage and soil disruption. Fields cultivating wheat, mustard and pulses were the ones that suffered the most out as a consequence.

Another major problem faced by the sector of agriculture in India is that there are a lot of farming tools and machines that are either expensive beyond affordability or not available for harvesting at all. What prevails next is the increase in the fleeing of farmers to their homes because the panic caused due to the novel coronavirus is simply impeding.

It is only a matter of time before these problems will lead to weak food production, which will further lead to high inflation in food prices. Eventually, the overall production of food will hinder and decrease in the later months to come.

According to a report by Focus Web, village studies show that classes in agricultural labourers no longer exist in the Indian scenario because of the shrinking employment availabilities. However, the class which can be defined as manual workers and which essentially shifts between seasonal agricultural work and non-farm manual work is the class we commonly know as the migrant agricultural worker section.

A large number of these migrant labourers hailing from the eastern states like Bihar and Jharkhand, who were employed in fieldwork and transporting activities, have sunk amidst this pandemic. It has been estimated that Punjab employers about one million migrant workers and similarly, Haryana about 0.6 million, usually from the state of Bihar.

Then, in the wake of such a biological crisis, there is no labour left to help to carry out harvest and post-harvest operations! Needless to mention, wages have been hiking up and down causing not just an overall deficit but also a day-to-day inconvenience in the lives of these poor, helpless people. The migrant workers involved in agriculture in their own home states have also been affected by the consequent absence of all non-farm work.

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Lockdown has thus gone on to stop the field activities pertaining to the training sessions in villages. However, the attentiveness and cognisance of certain help forces have tried to make the Indian Farmer’s life relatively better. For example, Sumarth one such establishment that has been using online tools to help with the crop health issues and complications that rural workers may have.

They have taken the initiative of calling the farmers regularly, to make sure everything is in place. Not only do they help identify the problems, but also provide respective suggestions accordingly. Sumarth has also been providing all the necessary items required for healthy life like spinach, bottle garden, mushroom, coriander, ladyfinger, drum stick, banana, papaya, strawberry etc. in these remote areas at a rate which is genuine and affordable. 

In times like these, even when all the work has come to a halt, farmers are the ones who are shedding their blood, sweat and tears, day and night, so they can provide for the citizens of this country. Amidst the relentless hardships is their ceaseless effort to fight them away. And it is our basic courtesy to return, that we as the fellow inhabitants of the same land remember, and support these soldiers of agriculture in these troubling times. займ денег до зарплатывзять займ на карту срочно без отказаонлайн займ за 5 минут займ до зарплаты спбонлайн экспресс займвзять займ онлайн с плохой кредитной историей

Tanvi Kulkarni

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