CHANDIGARH: The lockdown is driving some long-awaited positive changes in agriculture – it is bringing farmers in direct contact with big buyers in cities and is forcing a change in cropping practices that will help rejuvenate the soil and conserve water.
The uncertainty in mandis has strengthened direct sales. The central and many state governments are helping farmers bring their produce to cities, cutting the middlemen who often make maximum profit in the entire chain.
The acute shortage of labour will severely restrict the popular practice of paddy transplantation in Punjab and Haryana which increases the yield but is very water intensive and depletes groundwater significantly. The common practice is also very labour intensive. Farmers often lure migrant labourers with 70% higher wages during the transplanting season.
“As much as 12 times man-days of labour is required in paddy compared to wheat. Around 500 lakh man-day of work is needed for paddy compared to wheat in Punjab,” said Kamal Vatta, head, Economic & Sociology, Punjab Agriculture University.