In the middle of the Corona crisis and the resultant 21-day lockdown, when everyone including media is talking about groceries, medicines, vegetables and restaurants, the one sector they are ignoring is Agriculture. Nobody is thinking about the impact on the problems faced by farmers and the crop yields. It has just become our psych to only focus on the urban issues and urban market.
India’s PM Modi announced the lockdown of 21 days to be commenced on March 25, 2020. Although, many are appreciating this nationwide lockdown and believe that this will prevent the spread of COVID-19, some are criticizing the move considering the future economic breakdown in India. The country’s economy was sputtering even before the outburst of coronavirus. Due to this, many families earning daily wages and farms labors are still struggling to survive. Farmers are under stress as they are their crops are falling prey to pests and especially when the population is indoors and pests are free to move. Along with the pharmacist and doctors, we are alsohugely dependent on the farmers. But still, we are ignoring their issues and the losses they are facing.
There are many organizations and social workers that are providing mid-meals and basic support to poor families in urban areas. But this kind of buffer stock has not been provided to the small farmers who are striving to supply fresh products in the market, especially the farmers that are relying on the rabbi harvest. Moreover there is also a fear about consuming poultry products and transmission of bird flu. This has witnessed a major decline in their prices and a meltdown in the market. There are many aspects of farming that are getting affected due to this lockdown and in turn impacting the lives of small farmers.
No Buyers in the Markets
All the major wholesale markets have already been closed down plus farmers have been told to store the goods at their end. Many stocksare rotting in the trucks itself that are standing in the Mandis since many days. Another reason why the vegetables are getting ruined is because of the few buyers and fewer means of transport. Seasonal produce is facing the same condition. In many fields, the farmers had already started harvesting wheat. Due to lockdown, they are not getting any labor and the work has been stopped. The farmers as well as the wholesalers are uncertain regarding the commencement of regular sale. Thus the impact on profits and consumption is likely to face long-term distress.
Effects on Supply Chain
As per the corona lockdown relief plan, a certain amount is dedicated to supporting the farmers but the issue is- will it actually reach them? The agricultural production is extensively interconnected and we need a master-plan to keep the supply chain active. It needs proper procurement and an efficient inventory that is aligned with the current social distancing protocol. This is the peak season for sale but the farmers are facing concerns of stock pile-ups. Proper communication and regulating arrival/dispatch schedules of goods and people might help the supply chain to thrive in the time of crisis. This will not only limit the flood of customers but also the farmers.
Issues of Local Food System
The issues of local and private food systems should be addressed as this avoids the consumers panic as well as stockpiling. The essential and delivery services provided by them are completely stopped due to the lockdown. Due to social distancing, the consumption patterns have been changed. There is a vast difference between the production value and consumption value as people are stocking things up. This is an invitation to the further crisis and the farmers who depend on these local vendors need to be protected from this situation.
In current situation, farmers are the ones on whom we are most dependent apart from medicos, but the harsh reality is that currently we are not thinking about them. To maintain the farmer’s ecosystem and all of us to survive, urgent plan of action should be chalked down, before it’s too late.
Salute to my Farmers! Salute to their spirit!