Agriculture ministry issues 17-point guidelines to boost safe farm operations during lockdown | India News

NEW DELHI: Syncing its advisories with exemptions given to farmers during lockdown period, the agriculture ministry has issued 17-point guidelines for prevention of Covid-19 spread during crop harvesting/, threshing and sowing operations, and extended validity of various tests reports on approval of tractors and farm machineries till December 31. Even validity of license of seed dealers, which are expired or going to be expired, has been extended till September 30.
“These moves will help uninterrupted farm operations across the country,” said an official while sharing data which shows how exemptions have, in fact, helped farmers completed harvesting of wheat in 67% of the total sown area as on Friday.
Farmers could even begin sowing of Kharif (summer sown) crops in many states during the lockdown period. Backed by rains during April 10-17 period, the total sown area of summer crops reported increase of 36% (increased to 52.78 lakh hectares from 38.64 lakh hectares) as on April 17 compared to the same period last year. The total sown area include around 33 lakh hectares under paddy (rice) in 12 states including West Bengal, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
Besides advising on how to maintain social distancing and take basic safeguards in farms, the ministry in its 17-point guidelines also suggested farmers to keep agricultural produce “outside for 48 hours, preferably in sunshine, before storage in home” and ensure that it doesn’t “come in contact with land/soil”.
“Though it’s not practically possible to monitor each and every farm in the country, the guidelines would create an awareness among farmers on how to carry out their activities without any disruption. After all, these are important for their own safety as well,” said an official.
The guidelines also emphasised on harvesting of Rabi (winter sown) crops though mechanised harvesters “as far as possible” to involve less farm workers in the field.
Accordingly in order to ensure the uninterrupted supply of agricultural machinery to farmers under subsidy programmes, the government has exempted various tests for approval applicable to Tractors, Power Tillers, Combine Harvesters and other self propelled agricultural machinery till December 31.
Testing of tractors as per revised BIS standards and Implementation of new technical critical specifications of 51 agricultural machinery too has also been deferred till December 31.
“It has also been decided to extend the validity of import permission till September after consideration of the requirement of seed/planting material of the importing parties,” said the ministry.
Besides harvest and sowing operations, procurement of Pulses & Oilseeds at minimum support price (MSP) from farmers is currently in progress in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. “Limited number of farmers are being called everyday to maintain social distancing during procurement exercise,” said an official.

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