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Agri sector immune to Covid 2.0: Niti Aayog

Says Covid spread to rural areas when agriculture activity minimum

Agri sector immune to Covid 2.0: Niti Aayog
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Agri sector immune to Covid 2.0: Niti Aayog  

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Niti Aayog Member (Agriculture) Ramesh Chand on Sunday said the second Covid-19 wave will not impact the Indian agriculture sector in anyway as rural areas saw spread of infections in May when agriculture activities remained at bare minimum. In an interview with PTI, Chand said that India's policies on subsidy, price and technology have remained too much in favour of rice, wheat and sugarcane, and there is need to make the procurement and minimum support price policy favourable to pulses. "Covid-19 cases started spreading in the rural areas in the month of May, with the beginning of the month of May, and agriculture activity in the month of May is bare minimal, particularly land-based activities," he added. "...it (May) is a peak summer month and no crop is sown, no crop is harvested except little bit vegetables and some off-season crops," Chand further explained.

Agriculture activity, Chand said, peaks in the month of March or till middle of April, after that it comes down significantly and again peaks with the arrival of monsoon. "So even if less availability of labour is there in the month of May till mid-June, I don't think that will impact agriculture in anyway," Chand said. He pointed out that labour force is moving to rural areas as there has been a lot of increase in Covid-19 cases in urban areas and these labourers are willing to work in the agriculture sector for livelihood. "From the output side, you look at agriculture market data. Market for agriculture (is) just working normally everywhere," he argued. The Niti Aayog member noted that income from the agriculture sector, which is a major source of earning for rural people, is intact. "So that large segment of rural income,it is remaining intact and rural demand on that count will not be affected," he opined. Chand added that only in case of some services which are not working in rural area, there is an issue. "I would say that the government should keep its emphasis on MGNREGA," Chand suggested. The Niti Aayog member, however, admitted that remittance from urban areas that has been going to rural areas and aiding rural demand will fall. On being asked why India is not self-sufficient in pulses production, he said there is need to increase pulses area under irrigation and that will make a lot of difference in production and stability in prices.

He added that "in India, our subsidy policy, our price policy, technology policy, have remained too much in favour of rice and wheat and sugarcane.

Bijay Kumar Singh
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