Coronavirus lockdown: Farmers can delay wheat harvesting till Apr 20, says ICAR
Farmers can delay wheat harvesting till April 20 without incurring any major losses as temperature in the growing states is still below the long-term average, government research body ICAR said on Tuesday, while advising farmers to take precautions amid the rapid spread of coronavirus in India
Farmers can delay wheat harvesting till April 20 without incurring any major losses as temperature in the growing states is still below the long-term average, government research body ICAR said on Tuesday, while advising farmers to take precautions amid the rapid spread of coronavirus in India.
Normally, wheat harvesting begins from March-end. The government has pegged a record wheat output of 106.21 million tonnes in 2019-20 crop year (July-June) on the back of good rains as against 103.60 million tonnes in the previous year.
In its latest advisory to farmers, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) sad, "The temperature in most wheat growing areas is still below long-term average and therefore likely to delay wheat harvesting by at least 10-15 days beyond April 10, therefore, farmers can delay wheat harvesting till April 20 without incurring any significant loss."
This would give farmers enough time to manage logistics for procurement and announcement of dates, it said.
ICAR said the movement of combine harvesters within the state and between states is permitted, and asked farmers to ensure that the workers engaged in repair, maintenance and harvesting operation adopt safety measures for coronavirus.
Currently, manual harvesting of mustard -- the second most important rabi crop -- is underway and threshing is due wherever it is already harvested.
ICAR said harvesting of lentils, maize and chillies is in progress, while that of grams is fast approaching. Sugarcane harvesting is also at its peak, while it is also time for manual planting in the north.
In its advisory, the agri-research body asked farmers to engage only "familiar persons to the extent possible and after reasonable enquiry as to avoid the entry of any suspect or likely carrier (of the coronavirus) during field activity."
"Prefer mechanized operations over the manual wherever feasible. Only the essential numbers of persons should be allowed to accompany the machine," it said.
In case of manual field operations of harvesting/ picking, accomplish the operation in 4-5 feet spaced strips assigning one strip to one person. This will ensure adequate spacing between the engaged labours, it added.
ICAR further asked farmers to stagger field operations wherever possible, and avoid engaging more number of persons on the same day.
"All the persons engaged should use masks and ensure hand washing with soap at reasonable intervals. Maintain safe distance of 3-4 feet during rest, taking of meals, transfer of produce at collection point, loading/unloading," it said.
With regard to rabi paddy, ICAR said the crop in southern states has been widely affected due to 'neck blast' disease. Therefore, adequate precautions should be taken while spraying of recommended fungicide by contract sprayers/ farmers.
In horticultural crops at fruiting stage such as mango, adequate precautions should be taken in handling inputs and mixing while carrying out field operations related to nutrient spray and crop protection. Besides, delivery and washing of equipment should also be undertaken.
ICAR said farm machines and implements should be sanitized at entry point and at regular intervals. All transport vehicles, gunny bags or other packaging material should also be sanitized
The collection of the produce may be done in small heaps spaced at 3-4 feet and field level processing should be assigned to 1-2 persons/heap to avoid crowding.
Proper sanitation and cleanliness of threshers for harvested maize and groundnut is to be maintained, especially when machines are shared and used by farmer groups.
Copious washing of machine parts frequently touched with soap is advised, it added.
For post-harvest, storage and marketing of farm produce, ICAR asked farmers to take precautions while performing drying, threshing, winnowing, cleaning, grading, sorting and packaging operations at the farm level.
"Ensure proper drying prior to storage of harvested grains, millets, pulses at farm/home and do not use reuse previous seasons jute bags to prevent pest infestation. Use treated and dried gunnies after soaking in 5 per cent neem solution," it said.
Farmers should take enough personal safety measures while loading and transporting farm produce and participating in sale at market yards/auction platforms, it said.
ICAR said seed producing farmers are allowed to transport their produce to seed companies with supporting documents, and asked them to take precautions while receiving payments.
Farmers should take precautions while direct marketing/supplying vegetables such as tomato, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, cucumbers and other cucurbits from farms.
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"Seed processing/packaging plants and transportation of seed from producing states to growing states (south to north) is essential to make available seed for ensuing kharif crops. SSG seed for green fodder for sowing in April in north comes from southern states," ICAR added.
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