The deadly Corona Virus has left the planet in chaos, affecting the social and economic lives of its people. It has claimed several lives and infected millions of people around the globe. The planetarians are now filled with anxiety and uncertainties. The pandemic now is taking an ugly turn and the turmoil caused by it has left no sector of the economy out of its reach.
On 24 March, 2020 the government of India imposed a lockdown for 21 days, in a hope that there will be a drop in COVID infected cases. The advisory committees recommended an extension in the lockdown and on 14 April, our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced the second phase of the lockdown till 3rd May. The lockdown has been further extended till 17th May with some relaxations. With farmers restricted at homes, the agriculture sector has received a severe blow.
Like every state of our country, Uttarakhand’s agriculture has also been affected by the disease. The mountain state practice mixed cropping except the plain areas which grow single crops. This year besides being hit by the harsh weather a new enemy took a toll on its agriculture sector- The novel Coronavirus. Let us see how the culprit has caused havoc in the state.
Impacts of COVID19 on the Agriculture Sector of Uttarakhand
- Sadly, this period has coincided with the time of harvesting of Rabi Crops, affecting the farmers and agriculturalists to a great extent. This has disturbed the livelihoods of the farmers, thereby affecting disruptions in domestic food systems and food supply chains risking household food security.
- The quarantine has imposed restriction on inter and intra state movement of farmers/ laborer and also the machines required in the farm, affecting farm operations
- The farmers in Uttarakhand are suffering huge losses, since the farm produce is unable to reach the market. The perishable items and those with smaller shelf lives like fruits and vegetables are getting spoiled rendering all the hard work in vain.
- Harvest of Uttarakhand’s major crops like wheat, barley, gram mustard has been affected.
- As per reports there is almost 70% wastage of vegetables like cauliflower, tomato, onion and capsicum, since there are no buyers due to lockdown.
- A good harvest depends on the quality of seeds sown. Amidst the crisis, where travel restrictions exist, good seeds and other farm inputs essential for growing kahrif crops, are unable to reach the farms.
- The fertilizers and pesticides supply has also been broken triggering tension in Uttarakhand’s agriculture.
Measures to deal with the Impacts
To cover the losses caused by COVID19 and boost the sector, the government of Uttarakhand has appointed a five member sub-committee, whose recommendations would be considered in the revival process. Headed by the state minister Subodh Uniyal, and members Rekha Arya, Dhan Singh Rawat, this committee will also focus on the allied activities like dairy and poultry. Working in coordination with the central governments, these are the following measures taken by the government of Uttarakhand.
- The state government has facilitated the continuation of agriculture and allied activities following the guideline mentioned by the central government.
- The government as per the nation’s PM-Kisan Yojna, would pay rupees 2000, to the farmers. The wages under MGNREGS has also been raised from Rupees 182 to Rupees 202 per day.
- An agro advisory has been issued to educate farmers about hygiene and social distancing in these crucial times.
- Moratorium on crop loans and other agriculture loans for three months have been announced, relieving the farmers of stress and anxiety.
- The government is focusing to rope in the railways so that movement of farmers and laborers kick starts to revive the agriculture sector of the state.
- Distribution of the commodities, while maintaining the guidelines issued by the government is effectively monitored in the state now.
- Special attention is now paid to the small and medium enterprises which are dependent on the agricultural sector for raw material, so that the rural economy doesn’t collapse.
- Smooth flow of credit via farm loans will be provided to the farmers, as kharif season is approaching and the state is focused in uninterrupted agricultural production to meet the food demands.
- Uttarakhand government is also planning to encourage farmers through MSP (Minimal Support Price) and other price support schemes.
The End Note
Agriculture sector is the backbone of almost every state of the economy. To maintain food security and an uninterrupted supply chain the Uttarakhand government will have to focus more on this sector as compared to the other sectors. Once the crisis ends and the situation stabilizes other sectors will follow the league.