New Delhi: Amidst the uncertainty prevailing today, the one activity giving hope is agricultural activity, which is also providing the reassurance of food security. All throughout India numerous farmers and agriculture labour are sweating and toiling against all adversities. Their silent efforts, coupled with timely intervention by the Central and State Governments, have ensured that there is minimal or no disruption to harvesting activities and the continued sowing of summer crops.
While the Ministry of Home Affairs issued the consolidated guidelines on the measures to be taken for containment of COVID-19, it also ensured smooth functioning of agricultural operations. Timely interventions and exemptions have resulted in optimistic results. The Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) have been communicated to farmers for their safety and keeping social distancing while undertaking farm related activities. As a result of the proactive steps taken, both harvesting activities of the Rabi crop, and sowing activities of summer crops are being undertaken in a systematic manner.
Of the Rabi crop harvesting, out of total wheat sown in 310 lakh ha, 63-67% has already been harvested in the country. Statewise harvesting has also increased and reached to 90-95% in Madhya Pradesh, 80-85% in Rajasthan, 60-65% in Uttar Pradesh, 30-35% in Haryana and 10-15% in Punjab. Harvesting is in its peak in Haryana, Punjab, UP and is likely to be completed by the end of April 2020. Punjab has deployed 18000 combines and Haryana has deployed 5000 combines for harvesting and threshing.
Of the pulses sown in 161 lakh ha, harvesting has been completed for gram, lentil, urd, mung and field pea. For sugarcane, out of the total sown in 54.29 lakh ha, harvesting has been completed in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab. For the states of Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Haryana and Uttarakhand, 92-98% harvesting has been completed. In Uttar Pradesh, 75-80% has been completed and this will continue till mid May 2020.
Rabi Rice sown in 28 lakh ha over the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura and West Bengal is in the initial stages of harvesting since the grain is still in the filling stage and harvesting times would vary.
Amongst the oilseed crops, Rapeseed Mustard sown in 69 lakh ha has been harvested in the states of Rajasthan, UP, MP, Haryana, WB, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Punjab, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and UT of J&K. Groundnut sown in 4.7 lakh ha, has been harvested to the tune of 85-90%.
Growing of summer crops is an old practice in India particularly for meeting the additional domestic requirement of food grains and feeding livestock. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has taken new initiatives for scientific cultivation of summer crops such as pulses, coarse cereals, nutri-cereals and oilseeds. Besides this, the farmers also cultivate summer paddy crops in some states of Eastern India and Central India based on water availability.
As on 17th April 2020, summer sowing in the country is 14% higher compared to last year during the corresponding period. The rainfall received in the season has been 14% higher compared to last year during the corresponding period which has been conducive for the sowing of summer crops. As on date, the total summer crop area has increased to 52.78 lakh hectares from 38.64 lakh hectares as compared to the the corresponding period a year ago. The area coverage under pulses, coarse cereals, nutria-cereals and oilseeds has increased to 20.05 lakh hectare from 14.79 lakh hectare as compared to last year during the corresponding period.
Summer rice has been sown in around 33 lakh ha in the states of West Bengal, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
Pulses has been sown in around 5 lakh ha in the States of Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Telangana.
Oilseeds has been sown in around 7.4 lakh ha in the states of West Bengal, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar. Jute sowing has also commenced in West Bengal and has benefited from the rainfall.
The summer crop not only provides extra income but also creates lot of employment opportunities in between Rabi and Kharif for the farmers. The soil health is also improved through cultivation of the summer crop, particularly the pulses crop. Mechanised sowing has also helped the summer crops immensely.
The guidance of the Central and State Governments has ensured that not only are the harvesting activities being completed on time but also that the hard work of the farmers has ensured greater area coverage of summer crops.