Punjab farmers expect another bumper rabi crop of wheat this year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, however, harvesting, storing and selling the wheat are daunting tasks. CM Amarinder Singh tells Harish Manav that he and his team are ready with a detailed plan.
How will the rabi harvest take place in the time of lockdown?
There is no shortage of labour as we have taken several steps to keep all the 7.5 lakh migrant labourers in the state. We have provided food and shelter, and even wages in some cases. We are also drawing on NREGA to handle the operations. To prevent overcrowding at the mandis, we are planning staggered district- and village-wise procurement, doubled the number of purchase centres to 3,800 and authorised the district commissioners to add more if needed. The 30-member control room for coordination and logistical support will continue functioning till June 15. We have also asked the Centre for incentives to farmers so they can delay bringing in their produce.
What is the plan to tackle the post-lockdown situation?
We will set up a multi-disciplinary task force of about 15 members representing trade, business, industry, agriculture, civil society and health care professionals. It will formulate a strategy for gradual relaxation of curfew. We will also establish a high-powered committee to suggest a road map for economic revival.