New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) While the government tries to push up the supply of essential items like flour and cereals, farmers across the country say that due to the lockdown, machines used in agricultural activities cannot be repaired because the necessary shops have not been certified as essential services.

As per the second addendum, the Ministry of Home Affairs had exempted agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products, including MSP operations, APMC operated Mandis, fertiliser shops as well as farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field.

The exemption included intra and inter-state movement of harvesting and sowing related machines like combined harvesters and other agriculture/horticulture implements.

However, the addendum has missed including shops selling agriculture inputs except for a specific mention of those selling fertilisers.

Now the farmers’ community argues that the lack of mention of repair shops, spare parts shops or the showrooms has become a hurdle for them.

According to various farmers, the closing down of machine repair shops and showrooms for machines used in agriculture activities have left their tractors, combines and harvesters out of service, making harvesting next impossible.

Speaking to IANS, Bhartiya Kisan Sangathan President Rajendra Yadav noted: “It is an important concern as it is harvesting season for us and if our machines like combine and tractors won’t be repaired, how will we harvest crops.”

He added that the farmers’ union is now planning to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek his inntervention in the matter.

Another farmer from Punjab, Anirudh Vashisht said: “Due to the lockdown, the spare parts of the combines are not available and the tractors and straw machines cannot be repaired.”

“There are no combine harvesters because there is no labour. We plead with the administration to at least help the farmers in these troubled times – that is how we will be able to help India,” he added.

The concern is not restricted to just harvesting this season’s crop, but many believe that a delay of 10 days in harvesting crops would actually end up in disturbing the crop cycle.

“We are afraid that we might have to witness a delay in the harvesting process, which would further cause a delay in the sowing period. Since our harvest depends a lot on the weather conditions, there is a pressing need for us to carry out the process timely,” Shyamvir Singh from Hapur told IANS.

The manufacturers of these machines also support the farmers’ position.

“To keep the momentum of food production going, we urge the government to open retail and repair of all farm machinery,” Shenu Agarwal, CEO of Escorts Agri Machinery, told IANS.

While some states like Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh have already issued notifications to exempting agriculture inputs, the exemption has to be explicitly included in order to ensure that farmers do not suffer during this crucial harvesting and sowing period.

“Although there are some state governments like Bihar and Haryana which have issued the circular allowing retail and repair of farm machinery, the implementation on ground is not happening. Also, we urge the Ministry of Home Affairs to allow farm machinery as part of the agriculture inputs,” he added.

–IANS

rag/vd

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