After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown on March 24th, the agricultural sector was taken aback as the harvest was ready but will not reach its consumers.
However, on 27th March, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs amended the lockdown and included agricultural activities in the list of essential services that were allowed to function but the damage was already done by then.
The government initially failed to announce food and wage support for the poor, triggering panic among the daily wage workers as many decided to head back to their villages and homes.
As India's harvest is mainly confined to Punjab, farmers are dependent on workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh for labor work like loading and transporting grains. As most of the labor left for their homes, their absence affected the operations. Also, the restrictions laid by the police made situations even worse for the farmers to reach Mandis or their customers.
Sukhbir Singh, a farmer in Punjab says, "We are witnessing police beating up everyone. Even during normal days, we end up paying the local policemen. The government should make sure this does not happen when we transport our produce."
The Agriculture Ministry was targeting a record food grain production of 298.3 million tonnes for 2020-2021, higher than the 291.95 million tonnes estimated for 2019-2020.
However, the unfortunate outbreak of the coronavirus changed everything upside-down and farmers are now witnessing a hard time cultivating and transporting goods.
The facility of cold storage is not present at all as their owners aren't ready to open up any area where there can be a risk of the spread of the virus. Hence, goods can't be preserved or consumed later.
Transportation has been put on hold, making the situation worse and adding to their woes. The sudden breakdown in the supply chain is affecting hundreds of rural and urban poor in India.
Also Read: MP: With No Work, Money Or Food, Power Loom Workers Survive On Rice And Chilli To Defeat Hunger