The Centre on 16 April, 2020 kept all agri-related activities under exempted categories for the lockdown and expanded them to include inland fisheries after allowing marine fishery operations to resume recently.
In addition, it sent an advisory to all states to utilise funds under the water resources ministry’s Jal Jeevan Mission to mitigate drinking water requirements of residents in both rural and urban areas, including of those residing in shelter homes.
The exemptions in agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors were devised keeping in view the feedback the agriculture ministry received from the ground. Since the lockdown period coincides with peak harvest season, the home ministry put all related activities as well as procurement operations under the exempted categories with conditions that these should be continued while adhering to social distancing and other hygiene practices.
The move on fisheries came in the backdrop of demands from the sector as lakhs of fishermen had been out of work ever since the lockdown was imposed last month. In fact, a number of marine fishermen were out in the sea for fishing when the lockdown order came. They all subsequently got stranded on arriving back at the coast because they did not have any logistics to sell their catch or even go to their villages.
As for procurement, Nafed has procured 1,24,125 metric tonnes of pulses and oilseeds on minimum support price, worth over Rs 606 crore, during the lockdown. “This has benefited 91,710 farmers,” said the agriculture ministry which had allowed procurement of gram and mustard under central price support schemes in 13 states. The procurement of wheat, on the other hand, was started in Punjab on Wednesday with more states promising to come on board to ensure the operations by April 20.