India lockdown: Farmer bodies seek quick Central aid

By Author  |  Published: 26th Mar 2020  8:01 pm

Hyderabad: All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) president Ashok Dhawale and All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) president A Vijayaraghavan urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure immediate financial allocation to provide food and livelihood support to farmers and farm workers affected by the lockdown.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister on Thursday, they said the Central government’s decision to lock down the country would very badly impact the rural economy in general and agrarian economy in particular. “Standing crop worth thousands of crores is ready for harvesting, but the restrictions imposed by State and Central governments will make the task of harvesting impossible in many parts of the country,” they said.

Besides, agricultural workers were also deprived of work and wages. The livelihood opportunities for agricultural workers and the farmers’ investment on crops were at stake. Many sectors such as dairy, vegetables, floriculture, fisheries, poultry, meat, animal farms etc., were also facing severe losses. The daily-wage workers of several sectors were also losing their jobs and earnings due to the lockdown thus putting the daily sustenance of their families in peril, they wrote.

Both the associations demanded a grant Rs 3.5 lakh crore to provide Rs 5,000 as assistance for a month, food and livelihood security to 70 crore adult citizens, and free ration to all households for six months. They also asked the Prime Minister to recognise harvest of standing crops as an essential service, as was done in Kerala. 

“Provide harvesting equipment and supply seed for the coming season free of cost. They demanded that the Centre invoke unemployment benefit clause under MGNREGA to pay allowances for agricultural workers,” they urged.

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