The agriculture sector, as we all know is the largest sector in India. Almost 60% of Indian population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. This also makes agriculture as the sector creating the highest number of employment opportunities in the country.
Agriculture has been around in India since 9000 BCE. Agriculture has various components to it and is just not limited to sowing seeds and harvesting crops. The other important components of agriculture are animal husbandry and horticulture. Horticulture refers to the practice of gardening and cultivation of various plants and trees. On the other hand, animal husbandry refers to breeding and rearing animals for human and business purposes.
Covid-19 Impact on Agriculture Sector:
With COVID-19 turning the business world upside down, it has not spared the agriculture sector as well. Various states across the country are facing the heat of the lockdown with farmers not being able to do well in selling their crops in the market. This has resulted in not only the crops going to waste but has also put farmers in dire states of their lives.
However, there is a silver lining to this cloud as the Central Government has launched different schemes which will benefit farmers. The Finance Ministry announced an INR 1.7 trillion package to protect the low-income sections including farmers. The highlights of this package are an advance release of INR 2000 to the farmers’ bank accounts under the PM-KISAN scheme, to support their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centre increased the wage rate for workers working under the NREGS, which is the largest wage guarantee scheme in the world. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has released state-wise guidelines for farmers which they have to follow during the lockdown period.
These guidelines specify the various farming practices to be followed, especially while harvesting the Rabi (crops harvested in winters) crops and the storage and marketing of this farm produce.
Moreover, to provide more aid and benefits to farmers during the lockdown, the Government has approved the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020.
This ordinance aims to create ‘One India, One Agricultural Market’. This means that the barriers that restrict the farmers from selling their produce to different states will now be opened. Also, the ordinance aims to ensure that farmers have a freedom of choice in buying and selling their produce.
This ordinance will help farmers in not only accessing new trade markets for their produce, but will also help them explore new trading opportunities outside their home states as well. This will result in additional income being raised for the farmers.