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Coronavirus outbreak may cast a shadow over wheat harvesting, procurement

Press Trust of India  |  Chandigarh 

Farmers in Punjab fear that the coronavirus outbreak may cast a shadow over the upcoming harvesting and procurement of wheat crop next month.

With the state authorities imposing restrictions like curfew to check spread of coronavirus, the growers expressed fear that if the current situation prolongs, it will have an adverse impact on harvesting and procurement of winter crop.

Potato growers are already facing difficulty in getting labour for harvesting the tuber because of restrictions imposed in the state, they said.

Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) (Ugrahan) said, "How will farmers harvest their crop and go to mandis to sell it if the restrictions continue to remain in place? This is a big question before every farmer now."

"If this current situation lasts long, farmers are going to face a lot of hardships," Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) President Balbir Singh Rajewal told PTI on Tuesday.

"There is going to be a big problem of procurement in such a situation as labour is not going to come," he said.

Majority of migrant labour had gone to their native places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They return when wheat harvesting starts in Punjab.

"We are going to face shortage of labour next month. The movement of people have been restricted because of coronavirus," pointed out BKU (Kadian) President Harmeet Singh Kadiyan.

Kadiyan asked the state government to find out some way so farmers do not face any problem in harvesting and procurement of crop.

Punjab, which is considered the food bowl of the country, is expecting about 180 lakh metric tonnes of wheat output this season.

Harvesting normally takes place after the first week of April in Punjab and it gradually picks up pace.

Farmers said the inclement weather conditions had already damaged crop in several parts of the state and if no solution is found, they will face huge losses.

The Punjab government clamped a curfew on Monday after finding that people were ignoring the statewide lockdown ordered by it.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered the imposition of a "full curfew with no relaxations".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi late evening on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting that social distancing is the only way out for the country in its decisive battle against the coronavirus.

Punjab has reported 29 coronavirus cases so far in the state.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 24 2020. 21:46 IST