Assam Farmers Stare At Catastrophe Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

The state, that produces a total of 66 lakh metric tons of vegetables every spring, has allowed limited agricultural farming.

Assam produces a total of 66 lakh metric tons of vegetables every spring. (Representational)

Guwahati:

Farmers in Assam are facing a tough time due to the closure of vegetable markets in the state following the nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The state, that produces a total of 66 lakh metric tons of vegetables every spring, has allowed limited agricultural farming.

However, because of the lockdown, there is a sharp decline in demand and the state is expected to lose around 3,580 metric tons of the total winter crop by the end of the lockdown period.

According to estimates, 75 per cent of Assam's 3.10 crore population depends on agriculture - making farming primary source of income for its residents.

Ajoy Modak, 49, a farmer in state's Chirang, said that he was not able to sell his crop due to closure of markets.

The farmer, like many others in his neigbourhood, had taken an agriculture loan this Rabi season. However, he can't harvest it all, nor can he sell his product because of the lockdown.

"How will we be paying the loans? Our mind has stopped functioning. We also support the lockdown but if the coronavirus doesn't kill us, the problem that we will face will surely harm us a lot," said Ajoy Modak.

Ajoy's neighbor Gurudayal is facing the same situation.

Half his seasonal vegetables have rotten on the field, the other half is ready to be harvested but he has nowhere to sell his crop.

He too had taken a loan from private money lenders and has no idea how he will payback.

"Entire produce will go for a waste. This time we had produced a lot of vegetables - Cauliflowers, gourds, tomato, beans, carrots, beat roots, etc Half of the produce had to be thrown away, the half remains but it would also perish since there is a total lockdown," Gurdayal Burman said.

The Assam government said it has formed state and district level committees to monitor the procurement and supply of agricultural produce.

The state government said it is also helping the farmers through a direct cash transfer of Rs 2,500 into their bank accounts.

"All the 6 lakh registered farmers in Assam are getting Rs 2,500 in their bank account, the finance department has released the fund, they will also get assistance from PM Kisan scheme and as immediate help Agriculture Department has realised 4.7 crore immediately," said Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora.