LUCKNOW: The lockdown-triggered influx of lakhs of migrant labourers into Uttar Pradesh has come nothing less than a boon for the Rabi farmers who are busy winding up the harvesting of crops including wheat, oil seeds and pulses.
Harvesting of Rabi crops commenced on April 5 and the due to the timely presence of the large number of workforce, the state has already achieved a record 77 per cent harvesting of the wheat so far.
The UP government is targeting total wheat production of 39 million tonnes (MT) this harvesting season. “There has been absolutely no shortage of farm labourers this time around as over half a million migrant labourers have returned to the state owing to lockdown and looking for jobs. This workforce was used in harvesting the crop and this has resulted in the state clocking 77 per cent of wheat harvesting so far with full adherence to all the restrictions and social distancing norms,” UP Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi said.
The roadmap for harvesting was drawn keeping in mind the presence of huge chunk of manpower in the state. The state government had made it clear that it would provide local level jobs to the migrant labourers who had returned from other states following lockdown.
The harvesting of the oilseeds and pulses is almost over in the state. The state government is purchasing wheat at the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,925 per quintal set by the central government.
Yogi Government has established 5154 purchase centres and against the season’s procurement target of 5.5 million tonnes of wheat, the state authorities have already bought 33158 metric tonnes of wheat from the farmers till April 17, 2020.
In order to avoid crowding at mandis, the state government has started a system of online tokens. The in-charge of purchase centres would now generate online tokens and send them to the farmers through an SMSes. If any unregistered farmer comes to the purchase centre with Aadhaar card, he would also be registered right there.
However, it is seen that the government procurement centres in several districts are lying deserted as the farmers are taking their produce to open grain market where they are getting a better price. Moreover, getting payment in cash is their priority. “We are preferring to sell our crop to ‘arathiya’ (middle man) as he gives us cash then and there, while at government purchase centres, money is transferred to our account in 72 hours,” says Omkarnath Mishra, a Lucknow farmer.
Notably, last year (2019-20), the state had failed to achieve its target and could log only about 3.8 MT of wheat against the seasonal target of 5.5 MT. The sluggish procurement in the 2019-20 rabi season was attributed to the Lok Sabha elections apart from the competitive prices in the open market, which had
provided a viable option to the farmers to sell their produce. Last year, the MSP for wheat was Rs 1840 per quintal.