The fertilizer cooperative IFFCO has welcomed the decision of the central govt on exempting farm workers as well as manufacturing and packaging units of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds from the lock down order.
There is a general sense of relief among farmers also as the govt has, after a rethink, allowed the farm-activities.
Echoing the sentiments, IFFCO MD Dr U S Awasthi wrote on his twitter wall saying IFFCO welcomes the decision by govt of India for allowing the functioning of fertiliser units & shops, mandis, procurement, farm ops, agri machinery hiring, intra- & inter-state movement of farm implements during the lockdown period.
Though the government has allowed the manufacturing and packaging of fertilizers, experts say the main challenge for the companies is off-loading goods at respective places due to shortage of labour. One, most labour in several parts of the country have migrated to their respective towns in the wake of the nationwide lockdown and two, those available, fear police wrath in the lockdown phase.
Several units of fertilizer companies are presently operating their plants with the reduction of staff. The production has come down due to shortage of storage and offtake of the finished product, says, R P Singh, HR Head of IFFCO.
Given the fact that paddy season is about to arrive, the decision by the Central govt has been hailed in all sectors related to farming. According to the latest directive, the government has also exempted Mandis, procurement agencies, farm operations, Agri machinery hiring centres as well as intra- and inter-state movement of farm implements.
Fertiliser shops and custom hiring centers of farm machinery have also been allowed to function during the lockdown period, it said.
The Union Home Ministry has issued the second Addendum to the Guidelines related to the nationwide lock down issued vide its Order No.40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 24th & 25th March 2020 in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 10(2)(I) of the Disaster Management Act with the Chairperson, National Executive Committee.
This will also allow unhindered harvesting of crops. The Agriculture Minister has complimented the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister for the exception granted to agriculture and allied activities.
Under the 2nd Addendum issued by the Union Home Ministry the following categories have been exempted from the lock down:
- Agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products, including MSP operations;
- ‘Mandis’ operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee or as notified by the State Government;
- Farming operations by farmers and farmworkers in the field;
- ‘Custom Hiring Centres (CHC)’ related to farm machinery;
- Manufacturing and packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides and seed.
- Intra and Inter-State movement of harvesting and sowing related machines like combined harvester and other agriculture/horticulture implements.