What does the COVID-19 preventive lockdown mean for the agricultural sector? Well, a lot of difficulties – scarcity of migrant workers for harvesting, loading, unloading and transportation of crops to mandis, bogged down warehouses and cold storages as agri exports are stuck, lack of truck drivers means difficulty in moving farm produce to mandis, interstate transport interruption causes difficulty in obtaining phyto-sanitary certification, interruption in movement of shipping documents due to closure of courier services, problems in clearance of goods for import and export, including the difficulties of access to ports and yards.
As the lockdown continues, harvested rabi crop is ready for selling into different primary mandis nationwide which are closed down and there is restriction on the movement of goods, thus buyers are not available in the market. In India long haul movement of fresh produce is primarily via road due to its perishable nature and long distance movement of products like wheat and rice is carried out by rail.
In this situation farmers are facing huge losses because they cannot hold agriculture produce for longer period. It is more vulnerable for farmers who grow perishables, especially fruits and vegetables due to decrease in bulk demand, less exports and falling prices. Farmers growing perishables are already facing the heat with prices dropping. Present price crises will also have impact on the cropping patterns for the next season.
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